Google Wallet on Android

What is the Google Wallet Android app?

I have finally had an occasion to use the Google Wallet app on my Galaxy Nexus. So what is the Google Wallet Android app? It’s basically an Android app that acts like a digital credit card that you can use to purchase coffee at Peet’s, medicine at CVS and so on.

There is a special reader in the store that you tap your phone against when checking out (kinda like a credit card swiper except that you tap your phone instead of swiping your card). After tapping, you are prompted to enter a PIN (just like an ATM card), everything is automatically paid for, and your ready to pick up your bag and walk out the door.

To use Google Wallet, you will need a phone with an NFC chip. As of June 2012, the only phone that supports Google Wallet (to my knowledge) is the Galaxy Nexus.

A cool app

I have now used Google Wallet to make a few purchases and I have to say that it’s a nice upgrade to a plastic credit card. I have found that if I enter my PIN before getting to the checkout counter, I can just Tap and Go.

The coolness factor of the technology also helps. I got a free coffee at Peet’s the other day because the barista loved that I paid with my phone.

Security

I’m not too worried about security at this point at I don’t have my credit cards linked to Google Wallet. Currently, I’m using the Google Prepaid Card so if I lose my phone it’ll be like losing a gift card.

However, for this form of payment to go mainstream security will be very important, which is why I would like to see apps from the the banks and credit card companies.

A Multi-App Future?

Much as we have multiple debit and credit cards in our wallet, I think the future may be to have multiple digital payment apps, such as a Visa app, an American Express app, and so on. It would be nice if during payment a list of payment apps is displayed so that we can select one, much as we select a credit card when we open our wallet.

Another benefit of multiple apps would be security. One issue I see with a single app controlling every credit card is that it forms a single point of failure (in terms of a security breach). Personally, I also think the banks and financial institutions have a much longer history writing software that secures our payments, so an app from Visa may have tighter security that one from Google, Microsoft, Apple or another non-financial institution.

Summary

Google Wallet is a cool and useful app. Unfortunately, the number of phones that support the app are limited, and the NFC readers are only in a few big name stores. But, it’s nice to use the future today (unless you’re from Japan, then paying with your phone is old hat).

How to open a link in a new tab on Android 3 (Honeycomb)

Android 3 (Honeycomb) has a lot of cool efficiency enhancing features, one of which is tabbed browsing. Honeycomb brings tabbed browsing to the native Chrome browser that provides powerful browser functionality normally reserved for a laptop.

There are two basic ways that you can open a link in a new tab:
1.) Long tap a link (I have found that a one second delay works well)
2.) Tap and hold to bring up a menu of options, then tap Open in new tab

Of course you can simply tap a link to open it in the current browser window.

You should pay more for the Motorola Xoom

Last I checked, nothing is free. Bigger monitors cost more that small ones, computers with more RAM cost more than ones with less RAM, and so on.

So, why are people shocked that the Xoom costs more than the iPad, given the fact that it packs higher end hardware? Simply stated, you should pay more for the Xoom.

The Motorola Xoom ($799.99) is competitive with the iPad with 32 GB and 3G ($729.00). While most specs are similar, the Xoom has several superior hardware components that explain the price gap:

  • Larger display
  • Higher resolution monitor
  • 512MB of additional RAM (that’s 2x the RAM in the iPad)
  • 4G wireless
  • SIM card reader
  • Stereo speakers

So, you are paying approx. $70 more to get a larger display with a higher resolution, to double your RAM, to get a 4G wireless card, a SIM card reader and stereo speakers. That said, you have to make a decision whether or not this upgraded hardware is worth the price, but to expect Motorola to sell premium hardware at a discount price is a bit of a stretch.

Apple’s Unspoken Advantage: Lower TCO

Tomorrow is the big day Apple announce the iPad 2 and with too many articles reguritating the same content, I’m a bit taken aback at the complete lack of discussion of Apple’s big competitive advantage: Lower TCO. Yes, you read that correctly. The Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad have a lower TCO than the competition.

I buy a lot of content and I’ve come to one distinct conclusion: Over the lifetime of my consumer electronics device, Apple has a lower TCO.

For example, Peter Guber’s new book Tell to Win (in audio book format) is $20.95 in iTunes, and $24.50 on Audible.com (owned by Amazon.com). That’s $3.55 that I save by purchasing through iTunes, or 14.5%. This small difference adds up if you purchase a lot of content such as ebooks, audio books, music, videos, and so on.

While I have observed the lower price of content sold via Apple, my own purchase habits are obviously not a large enough sample size to qualify as conclusive research. However,  I would guess that a little bit of leg work and a representative sample of consumers would confirm my suspicions.

The Verdict is in: FlexT9 Best Android Keyboard

I have tried many keyboards for my Nexus S and the verdict is in. Nuance’s FlexT9 keyboard dominates the competition.

The biggest advantages I’ve seen with FlexT9 are:

  1. FlexT9 is production quality. It’s a polished keyboard that works. After months of use, I have never seen it crash.
  2. It’s swipe functionality is excellent.
  3. While I don’t use it much, the handwriting feature has been very useful in the situations where its a must.

Learn how to install the FlexT9 keyboard.

Install FlexT9 Voice, Trace, Write and Tap Keyboard (by Nuance Communications)

How does the FlexT9 keyboard help me?

FlexT9 is a multi-input keyboard that allows you to enter text by talking, tracing a word on the keyboard, writing letters on screen, and tapping the keyboard.

Improved digital input is a long term goal of mine which has lead me to try early styluses, Wacum, voice recognition, and just about every other type of input mechanism. I have yet to use FlexT9, but am hopeful that it proves useful.

Setup Steps

  • Touch Market.
  • Press Search.
  • Enter FlexT9 in the search box, then touch the search icon.
  • Touch FlexT9 Speak-Trace-Write-Tap.
  • Touch Buy $4.99.
  • Touch OK.
  • Select your payment option, then touch OK.
  • Touch Buy now: US $4.99.
  • Wait while FlexT9 is downloaded.
  • Touch FlexT9.
  • Touch Purchased.
  • Touch OK.
  • Wait during another download (not sure why this is necessary, but its how I installed the software)
  • Touch Open.
  • Touch Settings.
  • Touch Language & keyboard.
  • Check FlexT9 Text Input.
  • Touch OK.
  • Congrats, you can now use the FlexT9 keyboard on Android.

Learn More

You can learn more about FlexT9 in the Tutorial by touching Settings, then touch Language & keyboard, then touch FlexT9 Text Input (FlexT9 Text Input Settings), and touch Tutorial.