Google has announced to stop its Hands-Free Wireless mobile payment mode after several months of beta testing. Hands-Free is a payment app that lets users pay in stores quickly, easily, and completely hands-free – without using a card or pulling out a smartphone.
This program ran only in San Francisco’s South Bay area, which was launched in March 2016 after the search engine giant announced the feature at the Google I/O conference. In an email, Google sent out to The Hands-Free Team says Hands-Free is ending on February 8 and after that, it will no longer work at the stores that participated in the pilot.
Google Hands-Free worked by using Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi, and location services to detect if a user was in a participating store. At the time of payment, the cashier would ask for the initials of the customer and confirm their identity based on their profile picture.
Google said that it will take the attention currently put towards Hands-Free and shift it towards Android Pay and other efforts. To encourage Hands-Free users to make the switch, Google is offering a $10 Whole Foods gift card to customers who use Android Pay at any store.
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Android Pay was the Google Wallet mobile payment system, now works with all major banks, and is accepted at most stores that take Apple Pay. Since it uses a similar system, Apple Pay retailers were reportedly able to adapt it fairly quickly. Google is reportedly bringing tap-to-pay to Android Wear smartwatches, giving shoppers the same smartphone-free benefits of “Hands-Free.”
The full email from Google to Hands-Free pilot program members is below:
Thank you for being among the first to try our Hands-Free technology. Since launching the pilot last March, we’ve learned so much from you and our other early adopters.
Based on all the positive feedback, we’re now working to bring the best of the technology to even more people and stores. To focus our efforts, we’ll be shutting down the Hands-Free app on February 8. You won’t be able to pay with Hands-Free after that, so be sure to redeem any unused rewards before then.
In the meantime, we encourage you to start enjoying quick, easy checkout with Android Pay. If you set it up and try it at any store within the next 2 weeks, we’ll give you a $10 Whole Foods gift card. The gift card will automatically appear in your Android Pay app within a week after your first purchase.
When the Hands-Free app shuts down, your photo and settings will be permanently deleted to protect your privacy.
While we can’t share any more details about what’s next just yet, opt in to our email updates and we’ll keep you in the loop. If you have any questions, visit our FAQ.
The Hands-Free Team