As Android 4.4/KitKat updates begin rolling out to devices on all the major US carriers, one frequently asked question has to do with whether or not these devices will include Android's new "Tap and Pay" feature. This was one of the major additions in KitKat and allows almost any device with an NFC chip to be used for "tap and go" mobile payments, even if said chip doesn't have a built-in secure element. This means that Google Wallet's tap and pay feature, which has historically been disabled on most Android devices save for carrier-independent Nexus/GPE devices, and select Sprint phones, will now work just fine regardless of device or carrier.
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of understandable fear that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile may require this setting to be hidden, disabled, or removed altogether due to the fact that all three of them are pushing Isis Mobile Wallet, which is a direct competitor to Google Wallet. Thankfully, these fears seem unnecessary, at least so far. Now that we've seen KitKat roll out for some devices on all of the Isis carriers, it appears that this functionality is alive and well, and you're free to use Google Wallet if you choose.
Here are a list of devices that are confirmed to have the feature enabled and, by extension, have Google Wallet's mobile payment feature available:
- HTC One (All Isis Carriers)
- Moto X (All Isis Carriers)
- Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T, KitKat update not yet available for T-Mobile and Verizon variants)
So far, the only device I can find with an official KitKat update that lacks "tap and pay" is the LG G2 on AT&T. Given that Ma Bell clearly doesn't seem to be blocking it, I'm inclined to believe that this falls on LG more than on the carrier. That said, we'll have to wait for the G2's KitKat update to roll out to Verizon and T-Mobile before we can conclusively say where to lay the blame.
Thanks, Craig B. and Aaron!