We set out to learn just how well Google Wallet, Google's mobile-payment service, would serve the editors here at CNET's New York office. It's been a year since Google's ambitious project was announced, so how much has changed? Read on to see our results.
We encountered problems almost immediately. While select subway stations are outfitted with near-field communication (NFC) terminals that enable the tap-and-pay feature required for Google Wallet to work, the six-train subway stop near the office isn't one of them.
Who doesn't like coffee in the morning? Unfortunately, the Starbucks near our office doesn't accept Google Wallet (it has its own smartphone app), so we trekked a bit further away to a 7-Eleven that took Google Wallet.
The experience at 7-Eleven wasn't exactly smooth. The Sprint Nextel Evo 4G LTE by HTC initially didn't register at the payment terminal, despite the MasterCard PayPass and NFC logos. It required a reboot of the phone for Google Wallet to finally work.
Time for lunch, and what better place than the neighborhood McDonald's. Despite taking NFC payments, our local chain's terminals would not work with the phone. We tried three times and got the same error message warning us that the tap may not have been successful, and to ask the cashier to confirm.
Senior editor Brian Bennett needed some toiletries for an upcoming business trip, so we dropped by the Duane Reade drug store after lunch. Duane Reade was among the early partners for Google Wallet, and we were able to use the phone to pay with little problem. It's telling that the woman working the register was as surprised and impressed by the capability as she was -- there probably aren't too many Google Wallet users walking into the store.
We experienced perhaps the longest reboot of our lives as we restarted the Evo 4G LTE again to reactivate the glitch-plagued Google Wallet capability. For the second time that day, the payment capability wouldn't register until we restarted the phone, an act that had our cab driver stewing in angry silence.
Since few restaurants take Google Wallet, we opted to end the day on a sweet note at a Pinkberry fro-yo place. Unfortunately, we experienced the same error as we did at McDonald's, where all of the infrastructure was in place, but the cash register refused to accept the payment. Pinkberry is among the chains that are supposed to accept Google Wallet, so we diligently found another one where the transaction went through smoothly.