Last week, it was revealed that Google Wallet was effectively coming back from the dead with a brand new icon and a possible takeover of the relaunched Google Pay. I know, I know, confusing, right? Google keeps trashing its own efforts to overtake Apple Pay by renaming its core payment service, as evidenced by the fact that every time I go to the register at a store and tap to pay, I’m asked if it’s Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or “Android Pay”. Sometimes, people even ask if it’s “Google Wallet”, and I tell them “nope, Google Pay“. Well, I used to, at least. Now, I just tap and move on with my day accepting that someone thinks I used an iPhone-shaped Android phone…oh, wait.
Now that Wallet may be well, Wallet again (albeit we have no physical card like back in the good ol’ days), Mishaal Rahman has uncovered new screenshots of its user interface in Google Play Services. You can check them out below, and exactly as I suspected, Pay will remain the primary service for well, paying for things, while Wallet will become the new face of your digital cards. Why on earth there needs to be two services when one currently suffices just fine is beyond me. Perhaps the company didn’t want to do away with the branding entirely as it’s more user-friendly than “Pay”, but I believe this needlessly convolutes things even more.
In confirmation of 9to5Google’s leaked Wallet icon that was posted last week (seen in the feature image as well), a screenshot showing a setup screen for a “Google Pay” contactless payment is shown. Again, it looks like Wallet will overtake the Pay app, and “Google Pay” itself will simply be the name of the service on the back end of Wallet that will handle credit and debit cards while the Wallet app handles the user experience, including loyalty cards, parking programs, flight boarding passes, and more.
Essentially, I see this as Google putting things back the way they were right before it merged them in 2018. If you think back, this is almost exactly how Wallet worked before it was merged with Pay, and I’m of the opinion that it was just a really bad long-term experiment that we’re now going to be free of. I criticize the new direction only because it adds more confusion than it needed to, not because it’s a bad move.
I wish Google would think more critically about large, swathing motions like this in the future before executing them. Whatever, I guess – I may sound bitter, but all things considered, I’m happy to see Google Wallet come back from beyond the clutches of the grave as I have a fondness for it since I’ve piloted it since the launch of the physical card that’s still collecting lint in my wallet even though it was deactivated years ago.