08
Oct
head-of-google-wallet-says-negotiations-with-other-carriers-are-underway-hopes-to-announce-new-partnerships-soon

It's time to go APK spelunking again. Today's target is Google Wallet!

Remember this Google Wallet Q&A? The Wallet team took to YouTube and fielded user-submitted questions ranging from "When will Wallet work on my carrier?" to "When will Wallet work in my country?" with the answer to just about everything being "we're looking into it." One exception in the non-committal answer-fest was person to person transactions, with the Walleteers saying to "stay tuned" and hinting that an announcement would be coming soon.

Well, after digging though the Wallet APK, "soon" feels a whole lot closer. It turns out there is a ton of code and images for sending money from person to person, and it's been hanging around for some time. Check this out:

tutorial_7_tile_venti

That is the tutorial picture you'll see when Google decides to flip the switch to enable P2P transfers. There's tutorial text in the APK, too:

<string name="tutorial_send_money_description">Pay friends or family quickly with just an email address or phone number.</string>

<string name="intro_video_send_money">&lt;b>&lt;font color=#1f7cd4> Send money quickly.&lt;/font>&lt;/b> Pay friends and family instantly, right from your device.</string>

Interestingly, both of these only mention sending money to an email address or phone number; there's nothing about tapping two phones together for an NFC-based transaction. NFC support would be nice, but I wonder if this means Wallet will show up on non-NFC phones? This is the first feature where NFC isn't a requirement.

wm_2012-10-05-19.28

THIS IS A MOCKUP, but is currently what the code looks like. The APK provides us a big green dashboard button called "ic_btn_dashboard_p2p_normal.png" and strings.xml tells us the button will be labeled "Send Money" with this tidbit: <string name="dashboard_button_p2p">Send Money</string>.

This is also the order the buttons appear in the xml - Send Money is on the bottom. I suspect that is just so they can easily disable it. Having it at the bottom doesn't really make any organizational sense, and I would expect it to be bumped up next to the other card buttons when it is switched on.

wm_dashboard-death

Top row: Old 2x3 dashboard design | Bottom Row: A better design

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me to see the whole app get a revamp, this 2x3 Dashboard look is seriously dated (we're talking a Froyo-era design), and just about every app that used it has switched to something more modern. Having the first screen of your app be only navigational elements isn't helpful. In the newest release, they've added a few PNG files for holo tabs, which are, hopefully, the beginnings of a redesign. (They are 6-pixel-wide blue squares and not worth posting).

We have good evidence Google is dogfooding (testing) this right now. There are a few strings related to Googlers and Dogfood:

<string name="tutorial_send_money_to_googler_description">Pay fellow Googlers quickly and for free with just an email address.</string>

<string name="help_topic_contact_us_phone_google_dogfood">For Google Wallet related questions contact Google toll-free at 1-855-[redacted].</string>

<string name="help_topic_contact_us_send_receive_dogfood">For questions specific to sending or receiving money, Dogfooders can email &lt;a href=mailto:[redacted]@google.com>[redacted]@google.com&lt;/a>.</string>

It sounds like money is flying through the air over at Google HQ, and they are leaving us out of the fun!

So far as what things will look like after you hit that "Send Money" button? Well, that's anyone's guess. All I can get from the APK is bits and pieces. There is a string for "Available Wallet Balance" and a few buttons to "Add or withdraw money," so it sounds like you'll have a quasi-bank account with a money balance similar to PayPal. "Google Bank" will basically be a thing now. Transferring between your Wallet account and a real bank account won't be all that fast, with text stating "3 to 6 business days" for various money transfers.

Other than that there isn't too much surprising stuff, you'll be able to view transaction history, and it will tell you who sent money and who received it. One way it will differ from PayPal is that money won't just be a 1 sided transfer, when a transfer happens, you'll get a dialog asking if you want to "Claim" or "Reject" the money, and the sender can even attach a message to your money transfer. The last bit of good news is that a bank account won't be mandatory; there are several messages that say "This function is not available without a bank account," which would suggest some functions are available without a bank account.

The most shocking thing is that, on the client side, P2P Wallet functionality looks finished. It wouldn't surprise me if, in a few days, an enterprising hacker manages to get some of the UI up and running on a real phone (be sure to tip us if you do!). That doesn't mean a release is imminent - Google's infrastructure is, no doubt, the hard part. When you are sending people's money whizzing through the air you better be sure your system is rock solid and not prone to mistakes. The server-side stuff still probably needs more testing.

You'll know more when we do.

Thanks for the heads up, Anonymous!

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    Something for Android 4.2's announcement, possibly?

    I'm hoping this comes to the UK soon too. I *really* want to ditch PayPal.

  • Brian Menius

    Speaking of outdated GApps, I wish they'd bring Chrome to Phone into the current century. Holy balls is that archaic.

    • Ian Santopietro

      It's not needed with Chrome For Android and Chrome Sync. It's much better than CTP. In fact, you can go PTC that way too, or PTP, CTC, etc.

      • John

        Text copy to phone is nice feature for CTP tho

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1510272284 facebook-1510272284

      honestly it is because the functionality is almost entirely replaced with chrome syncing so it is really only for gingerbread or old phones.

    • Alex Murphy

      I haven't used Chrome to Phone since installing Chrome for Android and using "Other Devices"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      They did. Chrome to Phone is for old phones running Gingerbread; the new hotness is called Chrome to Mobile. The Android part is built into Chrome for Android, so all you need is a desktop browser extension. The cool part is that it supports multiple devices now, so rather than just spamming every Android device you have, you can pick one.

      • derekross

        You don't even need this anymore though since Chrome on both the desktop and mobile can view other tabs on other devices.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

          My "Other Devices" tab shows 37 tabs open across 7 devices. I'd rather just hit the button than look through that. =P

      • Brian Menius

        Eh, look at me all hung up on this old stuff. LOL

        I'm going to have to dig into this a bit, but on first glance, it's a step back from C2P based on my needs. If someone sends me a youtube link in a Google Talk message, I want to be able to right-click it and launch it on my phone since youtube is blacklisted on my work server. I could click it and get the "unauthorized use has been logged" message and then C2M it, but I'd rather not willing generate a bunch of logged illegal page loads.

      • Alan

        Chrome to Mobile is built into Chrome anyway, it's one of the flags you can enable in chrome://flags

    • br_hermon

      For those who don't say it's necessary any longer since Chrome has it built in... Well a lot of us are still on the stock browser (quick controls). Plus as already mentioned Chrome To Phone does have some benefits not found elsewhere. Sending text - like phone numbers, address, text for sms messages, basically anything individually selected rather than entire pages. What they really need to do is incorporate those capabilities into Chrome as well as Quick controls then call it a night.

      • Brian Menius

        Yep. I'll continue to use C2P in all its outdated glory. Sorry to have taken this one off track; I didn't expect this much feedback- but I do appreciate the suggestions.

        Here's hoping that they integrate some of the small features of C2P into their newer offerings before dumping C2P.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    <3 APK teardowns!

    • DavidKeith

      you guys should do more of them!

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

        What you need to say is "Google needs to leave more interesting things in APKs," because, really, I've done all of them. I mean it: http://i.imgur.com/XehsQ.png

        There isn't much groundbreaking stuff in there. I could do a roundup of mysterious and silly things I've found... if there's interest.

        • Dan

          +1 for mysterious and silly roundup! That would be at least as interesting as one more device rumor.

  • Jaymoon

    But is this still in the works, since they've ditched the Google Wallet account?

    If I send a friend $20, where does that $20 go? Onto the balance of one of my cards associated with Google Wallet?

    ...and do they actually receive $20, or $19.something after fees?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      It goes into a Google Wallet balance. Just like how when you get money on Paypal the money goes in your Paypal balance. It's like a bank account.

      There was no text about fees, so it sounds free.

      • Jaymoon

        But didn't they just shut that down?

        http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/09/10/google-wallet-is-discontinuing-the-google-prepaid-card-you-have-until-october-17th-2012-to-use-remaining-balance/

        Makes no sense to kill it, then bring it back. That's why I'm wondering if this "send money to a friend" is still actually happening. Don't get me wrong, I want it, I'm just curious regarding the "how" part of it.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

          This is probably why they shut it down. The Wallet balance replaces the Prepaid card.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            That'd be my guess too. A prepaid card involves dealing with banks and having a Mastercard logo slapped on it, thus involving Mastercard. A balance would involve no such thing.

  • http://twitter.com/watermelondog watermelondog

    hackers rejoice

  • http://www.androidnext.de/ Frank Ritter | androidnext.de

    Facebook (now) screenshot - I see what you did there.

  • Freak4Dell

    If they can give me a way to ditch PayPal for my business, I'm sold. PayPal really gets annoying sometimes, but there's no viable alternative. I could get a traditional merchant account, but I don't do enough volume to justify the fees with that.

  • Alan

    But the question of "When will Wallet work in my country?" still remains, kind of makes NFC on the International Galaxy Nexus useless.

    • Brian Menius

      I'm starting to lose faith, in general, in NFC as a sustainable, scalable mobile payment standard. Google's been floundering with Wallet in the US, and Isis seems to be backtracking at every turn. MCX isn't even sure what method they're going to use (but all I've read points to NFC being lower on their list than other options- though they've not alluded to what those other options may be). (Un)fortunately, MCX is probably the one to watch as they have everyone's favorite, Wal-Mart, as a committed party.

      I think MCX wants to try to redefine the status quo as it relates to card issuers and card processing activities. If it's something that's basically a glorified prepaid card for use at MCX merchants, I'm not interested. The card processing industry probably needs an overhaul, but it's unlikely that they're going to change measurably without a serious fight.

      Sadly, it's going to take Apple committing to some form of mobile payment protocol with the iPhone before the industry can chart a course. The sheer volume of iPhone users in the marketplace just cannot be ignored.

      ... and all of this really only pertains to the US. Start looking worldwide, and I imagine it becomes immensely more complex.

      I wish I could say I thought Google Wallet was the answer, but sadly I think it's a pioneer that's never going to become the de facto standard just because this realm is still very much the "wild, wild west." Don't trip, though- I try to use Wallet as much as I can, despite not being 100% pleased with the way processing works. LOL

      Anyhow, I'm not sure where you are- but isn't NFC adoption higher in European countries than it is in the US? I'm not talking in terms of payments, per se, but rather of general uses (subway pass, etc)...

      • Freak4Dell

        Yeah, as much as I hate to admit it, Apple needs to implement NFC before
        it can be widely used. The open nature of Android presents the world
        with an automatic catch 22. NFC won't be widely used until everybody has
        it in their devices, but not everybody will have it in their devices
        until it's widely used. Android OEMs are allowed to leave things out on
        budget models with little to no consequences, so there's a huge
        demographic that simply doesn't get all the features, with NFC being one
        of them. They won't add NFC to the budget models until it gets to a
        point where people won't buy a phone with NFC.

        If Google had strict standards, they could easily push both NFC and
        Google Wallet, but that will never happen. With Apple, they'll be able to put the technology in the hands of a
        massive amount of people within a very short time, and we'll finally see
        NFC take off.

        Oh well. I don't see paying with NFC on my phone to be any easier
        (granted, I haven't done it yet) than just swiping my card, so I really
        don't even care.

        • Brian Menius

          It's admittedly *not* easier, IMO. It's not measurably more difficult to me, though. For others who aren't tech-savvy, swiping a card is going to be much easier for all the people in line behind them.

          I'd be lying if I were to say the motivation to use it is much more than the "oooh, cool!" factor. In theory, there's an increased sense of security in not having to flash a card with the card number on it for others to photograph.

          • Freak4Dell

            Oh, yeah, I definitely don't think it would be more difficult. I just don't like change, and I often don't even think about different ways to do things I've been doing for years, so pulling a card out of my wallet is the natural instinct for me at any checkout station. I'd have to actively think about and remember that my phone can be used to pay now.

            I definitely feel you on the "cool" factor, though. I'm no stranger to trying things out just for that, and I'm sure that will happen when I finally get a phone with NFC.

          • John O’Connor

            Don't forget that with NFC payments you are not being subjected to potential skimmers and other card capture devices when swiping

          • Brian Menius

            Yep- good points.

      • Alan

        I'm in the UK and NFC is about as widespread as cheque payments!!!

  • Jon Garrett

    Google Wallet = TOTAL FAIL !! doesn't even work on most devices (carrier fault or not) so what's the point. now that apple has passbook and carriers are working on their own payment systems Google needs to get their shit together and make this standard on ALL Android phones.

  • TweetrGuy

    Now if only the LTE Galaxy could actually download it without hackery.

  • qak

    just a completely random question, but I have no prior knowledge in coding, html, apk's etc. and i'm curious about this: How can you make a mockup and determine what a screen and icons will look like?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Basically this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vAnuBtyEYE

      (The apk has images in it, the code tells you where they go. It's really just a matter of sticking the images in the right spot.)

  • John O’Connor

    This will lead to some comical antics when kids learn how to bump nfc funds out of money or daddys wallet. But then again maybe that is why it is not there ATM (at the moment) pun intended

  • gq

    Just release it to every phone that is capable