Android Pay vs. Google Wallet: What's the Difference?

By Sean Hollister on at

This week, Google announced Android Pay—a way to pay from your phone. No need for credit cards; just tap your handset against any supported card terminal. Sounds great—but also kind of familiar. Didn’t Google Wallet already do that? I just tried Android Pay, and here’s the deal.

Basically, Android Pay is the same tap-to-pay feature of Google Wallet, except way less of a pain to use. With Google Wallet, you had to launch an app, then type in a pin so Google could unlock your credit cards. The whole idea of “Google Wallet” was also a little confusing, since the app doubled as a peer-to-peer payment system which could funnel money to a real, physical Google Wallet card too.

With Android Pay, you won’t need the app. You won’t need to enter a pin. It’s built right into the operating system. If you’ve unlocked your phone, you just place it up against the credit card terminal, and boom, you’re done. It’ll even automatically prompt you to use a loyalty card or gift card if you have one. I tried a demo here in person at Google I/O with a Coke machine, and it sure seemed to work!

Android Pay vs. Google Wallet: What's the Difference?

Where does that leave Google Wallet? A Googler tells us that Wallet will continue as a peer-to-peer payment system, and the physical Google Wallet card will stick around too. Android Pay is for tap to pay, and Wallet is for transferring money between friends and over the internet.

But, as we all know, those changes mean nought until Google actually bothers to let us know when Android Pay will launch outside of the US.