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Google Wallet is back, replacing Google Pay on phones in the US

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Surprise, Google has new application. Okay, you’re probably not that surprised. Google has always had an ongoing relationship with the homemade apps that Android phones use to access their services. In particular, Google often likes to make big changes to them, rename them, or just suddenly kill them without much explanation. The latest Google app update is actually a resurrection: Google Wallet is back to store all your cards and personal information.

“But wait,” you ask, “isn’t Google Pay a thing? Isn’t that already the case?” Well, yes, it is. In fact, when the Google Pay app was launched, it replaced the older versions of Google Wallet and Android Pay on mobile phones. But at its IO event in May, Google announced that it was bringing Wallet back with some new features not found in Pay.

Here are the differences. Google Pay can store credit card information and communicate with digital payment services such as PayPal. It can also store airline boarding passes, vaccination proof cards, and some transit cards. The new Google Wallet can also do all these things, as well as store your driver’s license and unlock your car if you’re driving a vehicle that supports digital keys.

The Google Pay app on your phone will soon be replaced by the Google Wallet app, and all of your payment information and other data you’ve saved in Google Pay will appear in Google Wallet. Google will also clear your email of gift cards or loyalty programs from any company you’re registered with. (For example, when I first logged into Google Wallet, it instantly pulled out my Southwest Airlines Quick Rewards number, a thing I completely forgot about.) Just be aware that if you delete emails containing this information, this data will disappear from wallet.

In most countries, these new features will simply be added as updates to the existing Google Pay app. But if you’re in the US or Singapore, Wallet and Pay will be two separate apps in the future. Confusing? Yes. Typical Google? Even more. This is especially strange considering that just last month, Google merged two of its video chat apps.

If you’re confused, just get and use the Google Wallet app. It has the latest features, it’s very similar to Google Pay, and you can use it to make purchases wherever Google Pay is accepted.

As much of a headache as it can be to keep track of constantly changing apps, switching from an analog wallet to a digital wallet (or similar Apple Wallet if you’re using an iPhone) is a good idea. These digital wallets keep order, encrypt your purchases, and provide more security than a slippery piece of leather stuffed with a stack of credit cards.

Here are some more gear news from around the web.

Galaxy Unpacked Coming (Again)

Samsung has announced that the Galaxy Unpacked event will take place on Wednesday, August 10th. This is a ceremony that Samsung holds twice a year to showcase their updated phones and devices. (Yes, there was an Unpacked event in February.) Expect new Galaxy phones and tablets. In the invitation images, Samsung is teasing at least one new foldable gizmo.

Samsung says that of all foldable devices sold, 70 percent were Galaxy Flip models. It’s a smaller and more phone-like device, and because it’s made so well, chances are we’ll see more from Samsung in similar form factors. Stay tuned on the day of the event for WIRED to cover everything Samsung has to announce.

Primary Care

Unlike its ever-shrinking namesake, Amazon continues to expand. This week, the empire spawned by Bezos announced the acquisition of One Medical, a company that provides online and in-person healthcare to subscription patients in more than a dozen US cities. The nearly $4 billion deal gives Amazon access to the data of nearly 800,000 US patients. However, Amazon may be busy with One Medical’s complicated history. The company faced controversy last year when it was accused of prioritizing Covid vaccinations to executives and other executives over people who were at greater risk.

Many can point to the irony of Amazon’s sudden investment in people’s health, seeing how the company is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors for security breaches in its warehouses.

Cheerful future of Facebook

Facebook may have changed its name to Meta, but that hasn’t kept the company out of controversy. Recently, Facebook has decided to once again change the way its activity feed works in order to catch up with TikTok. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been ousted again due to a lawsuit related to the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. And Amazon is suing the administrators of over 10,000 Facebook groups over alleged fake reviews. Then there’s what’s going on with Facebook’s metaverse vision.

Joining the Gadget Lab podcast this week are Recode’s Shirin Ghaffari and The Verge’s Alex Heath. They talk about the big decisions in Facebook’s early days that led to the company’s tumultuous transformation into Meta, and what’s in store for the platform—and everyone who uses it.

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