Google’s Wallet getting bigger, though Apple’s iOS has edge in mobile commerce


Google’s adding new features to its Google Wallet app for Android devices, including the ability to send money to friends on your phone or tablet, as the search advertising giant continues to expand into new corners of digital commerce.

Other new features include expanded ways to use store loyalty cards, redeem discount offers and make purchases with your phone, according to Google’s announcement.  But the Google Wallet service still doesn’t have an app for iPhones, though Tuesday’s announcement has prompted some speculation that one may be coming.

(UPDATE:  Ask and ye shall receive: Google announced an iOS version of the new Wallet app on Thursday.)

Apple has its own Passbook service for keeping track of discount cards and offers. And it’s clear that iPhone users already like to shop with their phones. More than half of all mobile commerce transactions in the United States are conducted on iPhones, according to a recent study by the mobile ad technology company AdTruth, which was reported by Advertising Age last week.

The study found 57 percent of mobile commerce purchases were made on iPhones in the first half of 2013, while 43 percent were made on Android gadgets.

That’s especially interesting given that more than half of all smartphones in the United States are Android devices, according to comScore, which reported that Android has 52 percent of the U.S. market in July, compared with Apple’s 40 percent.

Google is also bumping up against in-store competition from major telecom providers Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, which have their own mobile app that uses NFC radio signals for in-store payments.  The new Wallet app can only be used for in-store purchases if you’re using certain models of NFC-enabled phones, though Google says more are coming.

Other features of the app that don’t require NFC will work on any Android phone, and Google says the new app can be downloaded to any gadget running Android 2.3 or higher.

(Google sign photo by Brandon Bailey)


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