Google just debuted its new experimental mobile payments service that allows you to make purchases without ever touching your phone.
The company is now testing Hands Free, its app which allows users to buy items solely with voice commands, in a few stores in the Bay Area.
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Rather than the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that powers touch-to-pay platforms like Android Pay and Apple Pay, the iOS and Android app uses a combination of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and location services to detect when you’re at a store that is set up to for Hands Free. This also means you can use Hands Free even if your smartphone doesn’t support NFC payments.
Here’s how it works: Set up the app with your credit card information and photo. When you reach the checkout at a participating store you say, “I want to pay with Google,” to complete your transaction. The cashier will verify your identity by checking the photo linked to your Hands Free account and by asking you for your initials. Google says that some stores are also experimenting with in-store cameras that can automatically check your identity based on your profile photo.
The payments, which Google first introduced last year at its I/O Developers Conference, is still very much an experiment but one that could represent “what the future of mobile payments could look like,” according to Google.
While Hands Free is only available at a few McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations in the Bay Area to start, Google notes it’s already seen widespread adoption of Android Pay, its NFC-based payments system it debuted last year. The company says it’s been averaging about 1.5 million registrations a month and that the payments are already supported at more than 2 million locations.
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