Google Wallet moves past NFC to support all Android phones

The new version of Google's virtual wallet can handle all phones running Android 2.3 or higher, and lets you send money to any U.S. resident with an e-mail address.

Google Wallet in action.
Google Wallet in action. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

Google Wallet has just expanded its coverage to virtually the entire world of Android phones.

Announced Tuesday by Google, the new Wallet app no longer is limited to phones outfitted with NFC. As a result, the app is compatible with any phone running Android 2.3 or higher.

The new version also allows you to securely send money to any US resident with an e-mail address. You can freely send money from your bank account or Google Wallet balance or pay a slight premium to tap into funds from a linked credit or debit card. After you've sent money via the new app, you'll also be able to send money directly through Gmail on your PC. That feature alone should make the service just about as easy to use as PayPal.

Tired of carrying all those loyalty cards from retail stores? The new Google Wallet app lets you import those cards into your Android phone.

Enter the card's number into the app, and you can earn points by scanning the app at the checkout counter. You can tap into programs from vendors such as Alaska Airlines, Belly, and Red Mango. Google also promises upcoming access to new vendors, including Avis Car Rental, BJ's Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley's, and The Body Shop.

The new app also stores offers you've found through other Google services, including Maps, Search, Google+, and Google Offers. You can redeem those by using the app at select retailers.

Finally, the update lets you view all of the purchases you've made through Google Wallet.

The new edition of Google Wallet is already available in the Google Play store and is rolling out to phones with Android version 2.3 and higher.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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