Android Pay may not have had a massive launch, or has been as aggressively rolled out as Samsung Pay, but it is steadily setting up shop in more countries around the globe. If you don't happen to find yourself in one of the dozen countries that have either already seen a launch or at least have an official promise of one coming soon, you might be interested to know that Google has at least set its sights on a few other countries. Text in the latest update of the Android Pay app hints at four previously unannounced markets. There are also obvious signs Google is merging the recently closed Hands Free experiment into Android Pay and expanding it significantly.


Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

New Currencies

The evidence for this one comes in the form of a new list of currency codes. Most of them relate to countries where Android Pay is already active, or at least Google has already said it will be soon. However, four of them belong to countries that haven't been officially announced yet. The list of currencies includes:

  • Brazilian Real
  • Trinidad & Tobago Dollar
  • Irish Pound
  • Canadian Dollar

Correction: Ireland was added in December 2016. I was using an incorrect source list that was missing the rollout to AIB, KBC, and Ulster Bank. Thanks, Daniel Brierton and Ailín Ó'S.

Of course, a teardown already told us last year that Canada is on the list, but Google hasn't actually taken the plunge to publicly commit. The other three are new. Rumors have circulated about all of them, particularly Brazil, which has been more officially mentioned by companies involved with the rollout of NFC-based payment terminals. Nevertheless, there haven't been any official statements about expansion into these countries by Google.

Currency Codes

<string-array name="currency_code">
<item>Please make a selection</item>
<item>BRL</item>  // Brazilian Real
<item>TTD</item>  // Trinidad & Tobago Dollar
<item>IEP</item>  // Irish pound
<item>CAD</item>  // Canadian Dollar

This list doesn't appear to actually serve a purpose for regular users. Rather, it appears to be a tool for testers that need to switch currencies while working with payment terminals. As such, I'm not so sure the list won't be removed in the future, but at least it gives us some insight into what's coming. Unfortunately, it also doesn't tell us when to expect a launch in these new locales. Naturally, we'll keep an eye out for new information as it becomes available.

A quick note about currencies: I copied Google's names for the currency codes directly. It's possible the Android Pay developers don't actually mean for IEP to be the Irish Pound, but may be using it as a symbolic reference to the Euro when it's used in Ireland. That would make sense if there are different rules or tax laws at processing time.

Hands Free returns as Visual ID

Many people probably didn't pay much attention to the Hands Free trial Google launched in and around its home base last year. To summarize, it's basically a new way to complete an in-person transaction without using a phone or card. Actually, you still need your phone with you because it relies on the various technologies that make up location services (i.e. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS); but instead of tapping it to a payment terminal, customers say, "I'll pay with Google," and give their initials to the cashier, then their identity is confirmed using a camera and Google's facial recognition technology.

A couple of months ago, the pilot program for Hands Free was shuttered, but Google left it with a somewhat promising message that hinted it wasn't really dead. Now it's clear why the message was so upbeat: Google is rolling Hands Free into Android Pay. It appears the feature will be branded Visual ID.


<string name="handsfree_landing_text1">It’s as simple as snapping a picture</string>
<string name="handsfree_landing_text2">A camera will recognize you at the register</string>
<string name="handsfree_landing_text3">Your points will be applied automatically</string>
<string name="handsfree_landing_title">Never miss out on points again</string>
<string name="handsfree_landing_title1">One-time setup</string>
<string name="handsfree_landing_title2">Works like magic</string>
<string name="handsfree_landing_title3">Just pay &amp; go</string>
<string name="handsfree_learn_more">Learn more about Visual ID</string>

<string name="handsfree_setting_title">Visual ID</string>
<string name="handsfree_skip_button_title">Skip</string>
<string name="handsfree_turn_on_button">Turn on</string>
<string name="handsfree_welcome_button">See how it works</string>

<string name="handsfree_photo_setup_title">Snap a picture of yourself</string>
<string name="handsfree_photo_setup_subtitle">This will help Android Pay recognize you at the register</string>
<string name="handsfree_permissions_title">Visual ID uses location &amp; Bluetooth</string>
<string name="handsfree_permissions_text">Make sure you have both turned on so that Android Pay can recognize you at the register</string>
<string name="handsfree_photo_error_subtitle">Make sure the photo clearly shows your face with no one else in the frame</string>
<string name="handsfree_photo_error_title">Let’s try that again</string>

Google promises to keep privacy intact by never sharing your picture with the merchant and deleting any images taken by its cameras within the store. Obviously, that doesn't impact the store's own cameras.

<string name="handsfree_consent_text_identity_text">Google creates and stores a face template based on the photo you save during setup. When you're at a participating store, Visual ID will automatically confirm your identity using facial recognition technology (your face template is compared to the image captured by the in-store Visual ID camera). Images captured by the in-store Visual ID camera can't be accessed by the store and are deleted shortly after they're captured. They’re not stored or saved.</string>

Also worth noting is that this doesn't prevent customers from enjoying their loyalty cards. Google will also match stored membership cards with the merchant and automatically apply them when your identity is confirmed.


<string name="handsfree_consent_subtitle">Visual ID is a secure way to confirm your identity at participating stores, making it easier to do things like earn loyalty points and redeem rewards.</string>

<string name="handsfree_loyalty_card_message">Visual ID is on and your loyalty points will be automatically applied at checkout</string>
<string name="handsfree_setting_description">At participating stores, Android Pay will recognize you at the register and automatically apply your loyalty points</string>
<string name="handsfree_loyalty_card_error_message">Your photo has not uploaded. This needs to be completed for Visual ID to work</string>
<string name="handsfree_loyalty_card_button">See how it works</string>
<string name="handsfree_loyalty_card_error_button">Try upload again</string>

<string name="handsfree_checkin_notification_title">Checking In</string>
<string name="handsfree_checkin_notification_text">This is needed for Hands Free Loyalty to work</string>

<string name="handsfree_consent_text_identity_title">Identifying you near checkout</string>
<string name="handsfree_consent_text_location_text">Visual ID uses Bluetooth and other signals from your phone to detect your location.</string>
<string name="handsfree_consent_text_location_title">Knowing you're near a store</string>
<string name="handsfree_consent_text_privacy_text">When Visual ID confirms your identity, Google sends your loyalty info to the store, but does not share any other info about you. You can turn Visual ID off at any time by changing your Android Pay settings.</string>

Visual ID will require a camera mounted at checkout locations in stores, which means it's probably not going to become a widespread feature anytime soon. However, if it can garner lower transaction fees from banks or offer unique benefits for stores where customers actually need truly hands-free purchasing – picture Starbucks and other places where people often carry things in and out without having time to organize – it may catch on in a few places pretty quickly.

Testing and error reporting tools

While it's not at all important to us as users, there were some other bits included with this release for use by testers. When issues arise during use, they can report the nature of the test and what issues came up. The "engagement type" lists the type of tests, including: Ninja Field Testing (I love this name), Smoke Testing, Country Launch Testing, and Other. I don't have much to say about the rest of it, but for those that are curious, take a look at the rest of the reporting options.


<string-array name="engagement_type">
<item>Please make a selection</item>
<item>Ninja Field Testing</item>
<item>Smoke Testing</item>
<item>Country Launch Testing</item>

<string-array name="hiccup_type">
<item>Please make a selection</item>
<item>Unexpected keyguard</item>
<item>Repeated keyguard</item>
<item>Multiple taps required</item>
<item>No hiccups</item>

<string-array name="terminal_message">
<item>Please make a selection</item>
<item>Insert card</item>
<item>Present one card</item>
<item>Card type not accepted</item>
<item>Terminal froze/crashed</item>
<item>Terminal restarted</item>

<string-array name="terminal_type">
<item>Please make a selection</item>
<item>Veriphone vx 820</item>
<item>Veriphone vx 520</item>

<string-array name="user_perceived_result">
<item>Please make a selection</item>
<item>Success no problems</item>
<item>Success with hiccups</item>


The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Version: 1.22.155022459

Android Pay
Android Pay
Developer: Google Inc.
Price: Free