Google Wallet for Android Gets an Update

Google says the new app makes it easier to send money to others and get great deals on merchandise through online purchases.

Google has released a new version of its Google Wallet app for Android phones that the company says will make it easier for users to send money to others, receive special savings on online purchases, and track purchases and other activities in one place.

The new Google Wallet app was announced in a Sept. 17 post by Peter Hazlehurst, director of product management for Google Wallet, on the Google Commerce Blog.

"Today, we're introducing a new version of the Google Wallet app, which is rolling out this week to all Android phones (version 2.3 and higher), available this week in the U.S.," wrote Hazlehurst. "The updated app helps you easily send money on the go, store all your loyalty cards, save money through offers, and view all your Google Wallet activity—all in one place."

In May, Google announced that it integrated its Wallet payment services with Gmail, allowing users to safely and securely send money to a recipient in an email. The service, which allows up to $10,000 to be sent in a single transaction, works even if the recipient does not have a Gmail address.

The new Google Wallet app is getting that same capability, wrote Hazlehurst. "Now, with the Google Wallet app, you can easily and securely send money on the go to any friend in the U.S. with an email address (ages 18+). It's free to send money directly from your bank account or Google Wallet Balance, and low fees apply when using your linked credit or debit card."

Another ease-of-use feature with the new Google Wallet app is that users will be able to enter all the numbers from their existing "loyalty cards" from various stores so that they can automatically get special savings on their purchases with those stores without having to physically carry the cards, wrote Hazlehurst. "The next time you're at the store, you can earn points for your loyalty program by scanning the app at checkout," he wrote.

The app will also now notify users of additional loyalty programs that they can join, he wrote. A growing number of merchants, including Alaska Airlines, Belly and Red Mango, will let users join their programs through the app. "For these merchants, you can view your loyalty status, rewards point balance and in the coming days, Google Now will notify you when you have a saved loyalty program nearby. And coming soon, choose from even more programs including Avis Car Rental, BJ’s Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley's, and The Body Shop."

In addition, Google Wallet's new app will now includes merchant offers made through other Google products, such as the Google Maps app, Google Search, Google+ or Google Offers, according to Hazlehurst. "They're visible and redeemable in your Wallet app at checkout," he wrote. "And later this week, you'll also be able to save offers on select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak. Just show the offer on your app at checkout to redeem it. We're working with many partners to bring you great offers, and will be adding more soon. It's saving made simple."

Users will now be able to see all of their Google Wallet activities in one place when making in-store purchases, as long as they are using one of the 29 different NFC-enabled devices, wrote Hazlehurst. Users can also track their online and mobile purchases using Google Wallet to pay on Google Play, select mobile Websites or a growing set of Android apps, he added.

Security features for Google Wallet include 24/7 fraud monitoring by Google as well as 100 percent coverage for eligible unauthorized Google Wallet transactions, he wrote. "And if you lose your phone, you can remotely disable the Google Wallet app online anytime. For added protection, remember to choose a strong password and enable 2-step verification for your Google Account."

The new version of Google Wallet for Android can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

Also in May, Google announced several upgrades for Google Wallet, including the addition of an Instant Buy API that allows merchants to make it easier and faster for shoppers to buy items using Android apps and Websites. The Wallet Objects API was also just introduced to give merchants the ability to engage their customers with loyalty offers and other benefits for shopping with them.