Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon.
Simple is a bank from the future (or the past, I guess), one that lacks physical branches and expects you to handle all of your transactions over the web from a PC or mobile device. After quite a wait, the Portland-based company has pushed out an update to its Android app that comes with enough visual tweaks to make the experience look Lollipop-friendly.
The previous version—which was already clean and, dare I say, simple—looked like a KitKat holdover.
Google Wallet has existed for almost four years, but everyone suddenly wants to be involved with mobile payments now that Apple Pay is a thing. Samsung Pay is expected later this year, and Microsoft is rumored to be preparing its own NFC payment service called Microsoft Payments. The news comes by way of a regulatory filing in which Microsoft applies to deploy a money transmission service in all 50 states.
Square released Cash a while back to make it easier to send and receive money on your mobile device, but now it's even easier with "$Cashtags." Get it? It's like a hashtag, but for money. You know some marketing manager was giddy after coming up with that. It's not all fun and games, though. Cash now also supports businesses with an option called Cash Pro.
Bad news, Europe. Global economic forces, combined with the uncertainty over planned quantitative easing have reduced the value of the Euro, resulting in lower buying power for European consumers. Oh, and a smartphone maker is raising its prices. Outrageous! OnePlus has announced an impending price increase for the One in Europe to compensate for the lower value of the currency, but you've got until March 25th to get the current price.
Lyft, the ride-sharing service that is more than happy to have someone drive you around town, will now let you pay for said trip using Google Wallet.
The functionality is available directly inside the app, where you can simply tap Add Google Wallet to skirt around entering your credit card number manually, assuming you already have one saved to your Google account. If you've bought something from the Play Store without using a gift card, then that's more than likely a yes.
Capital One might not have the best mobile banking app in the Play Store (in fact, it's among the worst), but someone there at least took notice of Level Money. This young startup has a great app and an interesting approach to managing money. Now Level is part of Capital One.
The next time you're sending lurid photos to people on Snapchat, why not make things interesting by putting some money on it? No, wait. I'm sure that'll never happen. Snapchat's new Snapcash service was designed with help from Square to make sending money as easy as sharing photos. Unsure? Just watch this super-weird 2-minute song and dance explainer.
Bicoin is a neat idea, but it's not very easy to use. In a world where most people have trouble figuring out how a ZIP archive works, asking them to manage their own encrypted Bitcoin wallet file is probably not going to happen. Having a third-party do it for you is risky too, but Circle aims to make Bitcoin safe and easy to use. The new Android app looks pretty great too.