Have Your Arms Full? Use Google’s “Hands Free” Payment Method to Check Out

Android Pay has really simplified the way we pay for stuff. We take out our phone, open the app, select our card, then tap our phone and the credit card reader together while scanning our fingerprint. It’s that easy. And just when you think it can’t get any easier than that… it does.

Say you’re a mother and your holding your child in your arms when you go up to pay at the register of your favorite local organic food market. You’re not gonna set your baby down on the counter to pull out your phone and select your credit card let alone pull out your wallet and try to find that Visa you lost 4 months ago. Or say you’re a runner and you have your phone strapped to your arm to listen to your workout jams. What, are you gonna take it out of it’s strap just to pay for something then have to strap it back into place? No, there should be a simpler way. And that’s why Google created “Hands Free” payments.

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“Hands Free” payments are exactly what you’d assume they are. All you do is download the “Hands Free” app to your Android (4.2 and above) or iOS (iPhone 4S and above) device, sign up for an account, connect your credit or debit card, upload a clear picture of yourself, verify your initials, and you’re good to go. Then, when you walk into a participating store, the app interfaces with the cashier’s register via low-energy Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by sending and receiving a signal that Hands Free payments are supported. Once you’re ready to check out, just take your items to the register, say “I’ll pay with Google” which will be picked up by your phone’s microphone therefore sending a signal to the cashier’s register with your initials, picture, and first name, verify the credentials the cashier sees, and that’s it. No cash, no cards, not even your phone. Everything’s taken care of with your voice.

Some might ask how secure this method of payment is, and as of now, it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll probably be fine. But since Google doesn’t settle with just “probably”, they haven’t made “Hands Free” payments available to everyone just yet. Right now, they’re testing it in San Fransisco at a handful of McDonald’s and Papa John’s along with some local eateries, but that’s it. Of course, anyone can download the app, sign up, and try it out for themselves if they live in that area (you’ll also receive $5 off your first purchase with “Hands Free”), but you’re probably better off just waiting for Google to make the service more commercial as the company has stated that they are experimenting with different verification methods such as facial recognition cameras mounted to registers which would make the new payment method much more secure than it is now, however still wouldn’t be perfect as someone that looks similar to you could steal your phone and pay for stuff with it and be successful.

It’s worth the note that this service is completely separate from Android Pay and does not conflict with it in any way or manner.

I really hope this technology catches on. If it does, we could see “Hands Free” payments become more available at everyday stores such as Walmart or Whole Foods. Something I’d really like to see is the technology built into Android Wear, which would make a lot of sense since your smartwatch is practically always exposed and therefore could pick up your voice much better than your phone inside your pocket or hand bag. Of course, Google will walk before they run, but I can’t wait until they pick up the pace.

What are your thoughts on the new payment system from Google? Will you use it or is it something just too gimmicky? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

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