Just a quick heads-up to those of you still using Google Wallet, but own a device that doesn’t have Kit Kat (Android 4.4+). Google is going to kill off Tap & Pay functionality come April 14 for anything below Android 4.4. In other words, you will only be able to store loyalty cards and offers, send money to friends, view orders, and use the physical Google Wallet card to make purchases. OK, that’s most functionality, just not the Tap & Pay portion.
They began sending emails out last night to notify users who meet the 4.3 and below criteria and have also updated their Wallet support pages.
Google mentions in the email that Kit Kat “works with different technology for an improved experience” that non-Kit Kat devices don’t have. I’d imagine they are talking about Host Card Emulation (HCE). With HCE, devices can make secure-NFC purchases without needing a Secure Element. This feature was indeed introduced with Android 4.4.
The move is a bit of a downer, as Kit Kat (Android 4.4.+) currently only makes up 2.5% of the entire Android ecosystem. There are very few devices outside of Google’s own Nexus line, the HTC One, Motorola’s newest, and a handful of Galaxy devices that are currently running Android 4.4. That should change shortly with more and more Galaxy devices receiving the update, but until they have Kit Kat, Tap & Pay is out.
Here is the email our reader received:
We wanted to let you know about an update to Google Wallet that might change the way you use the app. Right now it looks like you’re using tap and pay with a device running an Android version older than 4.4 KitKat. On the newest version of Android, tap and pay works with different technology for an improved experience. As a result, starting on April 14, 2014, tap and pay will no longer work for devices with older Android versions.
Tap and pay will be available for most devices running Android 4.4 KitKat. If you are able to upgrade to KitKat now, you can check if your device supports tap and pay. Supported devices will display a tile in your “My Wallet” screen that tells you to set up tap and pay. For devices that are not eligible for Android 4.4 KitKat or don’t support tap and pay, you can still use the Google Wallet app to store all of your loyalty cards and offers, send money to your friends, view your orders, and use the Google Wallet Card to make purchases.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for continuing to be a loyal Wallet user.
If you have any questions, please visit our Help Center.
The Google Wallet Team