In 2011, Google announced the first Wallet app. It allowed you to store credit/debit cards, pay for items at retail with NFC taps, send money to friends and family, and keep tabs on your various shop passes and discount codes. However, in true Google fashion, the company eventually split aspects of Wallet out into other apps, most notably Android Pay. By 2018, Google had merged Android Pay and Wallet into one app, now known as Google Pay.
See also: How to use Google Pay
It looks like Google is ready to resurrect the Wallet brand, though. At Google I/O 2022, the company formally announced the return of Google Wallet. Interestingly, this seems like a bit of a retread. Most of the features coming to the “new” Wallet worked in the “old” Wallet. However, this time things seem a bit more ambitious.
Promised features of the ‘new’ Google Wallet
Google wants the new Wallet app to be your one-stop-shop for everything related to money, purchasing, travel, and important documents. Although they likely will roll out sporadically over time, here’s what Google says you’ll eventually be able to do:
- Store payment cards and make NFC payments at retail locations
- Save electronic event tickets, boarding passes, transit cards, and other similar items
- Organize all your loyalty passes for various stores and merchants
- Store driver’s licenses, student IDs, vaccine cards, and other important official documents
- Store digital car keys
Along with these standard features, Google also wants to integrate Wallet within other apps. As an example, Google Maps could feature Wallet integration related to transit tickets. If your bus card doesn’t have enough money to get you to the place you just searched for within Maps, you’ll be able to top up your card using a Wallet button right in Maps. Check out the image at the top of this article for how that looks. Also, note the new icon for the Wallet service, which looks, you know, like a wallet.
When will we see this new app?
The first time you’ll see the new Google Wallet is on Wear OS in the coming weeks. At first, the new smartwatch app will only support payment cards. It is unclear when the app will make its way to phones and what state it will be in when it does.
It’s also unclear what this all means for the two Google Pay apps (that’s right, there are two). Theoretically, Google could get rid of those apps and move forward with Wallet as the one app for all these functions. That would be quite an interesting move as it would bring us full circle back to 2011.