Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) today released a payments app called Hands Free, which allows you to pay for items in stores without having to take the phone out of your pocket. The app, which is currently in its early stages, relies on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other features to determine when you’re nearby a store that accepts the payments app. When you’re ready to use the app, all you have to do is tell the cashier that you’re going to pay with Google. The clerk then confirms your identity with a photo to complete the sale. The service is only available in parts of the San Francisco Bay area, and it works with Papa John’s, McDonald’s and a few local retailers.
Hands Free, which was announced last year, is a companion of Android Pay, the payments service from Google. Android Pay is becoming more and more popular and currently has around nine million members. But Google is always looking at the future and wanted to see how this app would do right now.
Right now, cashiers have to identify you by checking your photo and initials you put on the app. But Google wants to make the process easier by placing a camera in the store that will automatically confirm your identity by taking a picture and comparing it to the one in your Hands Free app. Pali Bhat, senior director of the Hands Free app, said that all images taken by the camera are deleted immediately.
Payments apps have gained popularity these last few years and Google’s idea is nothing new. Other companies have tried to do something similar, but it has not worked. Limited number of participating stores is just one of the problems that the payments app face.
Android Pay, which made its debut last year, is one of the payments apps out there. The service uses an NFC terminal for the transaction and is accepted at over two million locations. It is currently available in the United States but will arrive in the UK at the end of this month. The service will also arrive in Australia later this year.
Hands Free is still in its early stages but Google will continue to improve the technology in the next few months. Google is also offering up to $5 off your first Hands Free purchase at participating stores, according to the Google Commerce Blog.
Hands Free is now available on Android and iOS devices.