Of all the limitations that Google’s NFC-based Wallet payment system had, perhaps the biggest was that of card compatibility — once you blew through that free $ 10 credit, it only ever worked well if you owned a CitiBank MasterCard.
Note the use of the past tense in that sentence. Google recently revealed a substantial update to the Wallet service that allows it to (finally) play nice with Visa, Discover, and American Express credit or debit cards.
It’s all thanks to a dramatic change in how Google Wallet handles users’ credit and debit card information — Google Wallet product manager Robin Dua explains it like so:
To support all credit and debit cards, we changed our technical approach to storing payment cards. The Google Wallet app now stores your payment cards on highly secure Google servers, instead of in the secure storage area on your phone. A wallet ID (virtual card number) is stored in the secure storage area of the phone, and this is used to facilitate transactions at the point of sale. Google instantly charges your selected credit or debit card.
That’s not all Google has been working on — also on deck is a new remote wipe feature that allows users to reset the Wallet app and purge all related financial data right from the service’s online management site.
While the update has effectively opened up the service to scores of new users, Google Wallet still has a ways to go before it becomes as ubiquitous as Google likely wants it to be. A quick look at the list of supported devices highlights nicely how much headway Google has to make — there are only eight devices listed, and all but two of them (the unlocked Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 7, naturally) are tied up with Sprint.
Now that the action has moved to the cloud and secure element issue isn’t really an issue any more, one has to wonder if Verizon customers will finally be able to get in on the NFC payment fun (officially, anyway). The carrier took issue with the app’s use of that secure hardware element, and cited it as a reason why the service wasn’t available for the LTE Galaxy Nexus late last year. Alas, that hurdle doesn’t seem to have been cleared yet — it doesn’t appear in the Play Store while searching on my VZW Galaxy Nexus, and the app (which I installed way back when) itself still refers to the device as “unsupported.”
TechCrunch » android
Chris Velazco is a mobile enthusiast and writer who studied English and Marketing at Rutgers University. Once upon a time, he was the news intern for MobileCrunch, and in between posts, he worked in wireless sales at Best Buy. After graduating, he returned to the new TechCrunch to as a full-time mobile writer. He counts advertising, running, musical theater,… ? Learn More
The folks at Sprint seem to be having a busy day so far — this morning saw (among other things) the release of the carrier’s latest quarterly financials, an announcement about new LTE markets, and the revelation that birds are keeping the company from lighting up “hundreds” of LTE sites.
If that wasn’t enough Sprint for you, now the carrier has announced the Motorola Photon Q, a new LTE-capable handset with a physical keyboard for all those customers who could stand to do a little future-proofing.
Putting the sizable five-row QWERTY keyboard — which looks as though it’s been transplanted directly from a DROID 4 — the rest of the spec sheet looks rather familiar Like the recently-released Atrix HD for AT&T (which, if you’ll pardon the aside, was quite a treat), the Photon Q sports a lightly-tweaked version of Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, 8GB of internal storage, and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera. Sadly it sports a slightly smaller 4.3-inch qHD ColorBoost LCD than its 720p cousin on AT&T, but its support for NFC may help to take the sting out of the switch.
As usual, Motorola is playing its cards close to the metaphorical vest when it comes to the Photon Q’s chipset. The last time Motorola did that, it was to conceal the Atrix HD’s Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 SoC, so here’s hoping for another pleasant surprise. Also up in the air at this point is when exactly the device is going to be released; all Motorola and Sprint will say for now is that the hefty-looking device is “coming soon.” With any luck, you’ll have some sweet LTE access in your neck of the woods when the little guy launches, but I’d advise against holding your breath.
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The folks behind the stylish, Android-based OUYA game console have been on a hot streak lately. Not only has the project raked in over $ 6 million in Kickstarter pledges, but cloud gaming service OnLive and legendary game developer Square-Enix have thrown their collective weight behind the $ 99 gadget.
Now there’s another hefty name to add to that list. Music video provider VEVO has announced that it has entered into a partnership with OUYA that will allow gamers access to its sizable catalog of music videos between long stretches of random encounters in Final Fantasy III.
Sadly, unlike the OnLive announcement made a few days back, there’s still quite a bit left to the imagination here. Neither party has come forward with images of the service in action, so exactly how simple the process of poring over and searching for videos is unknown. Still, this could be the beginning of even bigger things for the OUYA. Company founder Julie Ehrmann said that the partnership means players will have access to “entertainment beyond gaming,” which could add plenty of reasons to buy the stylized cube if the company could negotiate the right content deals.
Hell, even if OUYA doesn’t manage to ink agreements with companies like Hulu or Netflix, the fact that it’s running a highly-tweakable operating system means motivated geeks could easily extend its functionality beyond what the creators originally had in mind. Perhaps Google could even learn a thing or two from team OUYA — the search giant recently delayed the launch of its curious Nexus Q media streamer in an attempt to make it “better” after receiving plenty of hit-or-miss feedback.
TechCrunch » Gadgets
The POP, short for POrtable Power, is a delicious, high-capacity battery capable of recharging portable devices. With its beastly 25,000 mAh battery, the little station is capable of recharging an iPhone ten times. But it’s not just an iOS accessory. In fact the POP’s secret sauce comes in the form of four dual-tipped retractable charging cables that feature both a dock connector and microUSB port. The company plans to retail the product at $ 149, but Kickstarters can pre-order it at just $ 129. But wait! There’s more!
Thanks to feedback from the Kickstarter community, the company plans on releasing a $ 99 Pop Station that features the same charging functionality, just minus the battery backup. This will provide the same charging capability for those that need a less portable solution — say for use in the kitchen or in a coffee shop.
The top portion of the POP is now a bit more functional thanks to a storage bin. The creator, James Siminoff, told me that they should have included this from the start. But after “some quick engineering to clean up the inside a bit” the top of the POP now doubles as a storage compartment for the AC adapter.
The project already surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $ 50,000, but there is still 30 days left on the campaign to place a pre-order and save $ 20 off the retail cost.
TechCrunch » Gadgets
Today the first shots were fired in the high-profile U.S. patent war between Apple and Samsung, beginning with Apple’s opening statements.
And no punch was pulled — Apple’s lawyer made a few hard-hitting claims in the courtroom, providing documents that show Samsung thought the iPhone was “easy to copy.” Harold McElhinny (Apple’s lawyer) also showed documents prepared by a Samsung executive that claim that the company was in a “crisis of design” because of the iPhone.
The presentation also included images of Samsung’s design evolution between pre-iPhone time and now.
But despite the evidence, McElhinny’s most crushing blow may have come in the form of a simple and well-known tech adage: “As we all know, it is easier to copy than to innovate. Apple had already taken the risks.”
However, just saying the hardware is easily copied isn’t proof of copying it, which is why McElhinny returned to evidence introduced in pre-trial, depicting Samsung’s phones before 2007 and their phones after the iPhone’s debut.
Take a look:
According to McElhinny’s argument in court (via Reuters), the main question the court would have to answer was how Samsung went from the phones on the left to the phones on the right.
Apple argues that 22.7 million devices sold by Samsung are in violation of patent infringement, and that the company is seeking up to $ 2.525 billion in damages. Samsung will follow up in its opening statement later this afternoon.
TechCrunch » Gadgets