Google Wallet Arrives For iOS

iOS version of Google Wallet could spur acceptance of Google's poorly received electronic payment service.
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Google Wallet debuted in Apple's iTunes App Store on Thursday, although the App Store doesn't go out of its way to help you find it. Searching for "Google Wallet" on an iPhone via the App Store search box produced suggestions for a variety of other Google apps, but not for Wallet.

This might be because Wallet just arrived for iOS devices and the App Store hasn't seen enough interest to create a search suggestion. Google launched an update to the Android version of Wallet earlier in the week.

Since Google Wallet debuted on Sprint in 2011, adoption has been slow. The departure of key executives has hurt the service and so, too, has the disinterest of the major mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, which are backing their own competing Isis payment system.

The mobile carriers that support Google Wallet include Boost Mobile, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Zact Mobile.

[ Apple responds to criticisms of its software: Apple CEO Cook: We Don't Do Junk. ]

According to BusinessWeek, Google has put about $300 million into its Wallet. To date, somewhere between 5 million and 10 million Android users have downloaded the app, based on Google Play statistics.

Late last year, it appeared that Google was planning to launch a physical Google Wallet payment card, but the company has since scrapped that plan.

The iOS version of Google Wallet could help improve the situation because iOS users appear to spend more time on their devices and more money overall than Android users.

The iOS Wallet is lighter than the Android version in one way: Tap-to-pay isn't included because it requires NFC support, which isn't available on iOS devices. But other than that, Wallet for iOS provides the same benefits as its Android counterpart: a way to send money to anyone in the U.S. with an email address, to store loyalty cards and to save offers from merchant or coupon sites.

Gmail users have an extra incentive to try out Wallet. After the first time they send money, explains product manager Brian Kravitz in a blog post, they also will have the ability to send money through Gmail.

One advantage of Google Wallet is that it's integrated with Google Now, which can alert users when they're near places where their loyalty cards apply. According to Kravitz, Google is planning to add Wallet support for loyalty programs from Avis Car Rental, BJ's Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley's and The Body Shop.