In Brief
Soon, you probably won't even have to fish your phones out of your pocket to complete your purchases. Welcome to Google's Hands Free world.
Pilot Program

Commercial transactions have continued to evolve to keep up with the pace of technology available; but in the quest to make things faster and even more convenient, search behemoth Google is now exploring a way for customers to complete their purchases without even pulling out a smartphone.

The technology is called Hands Free, and it works by connecting smartphones to a point of sales system via sensors that your phone already has.

This means the point of sales device can then recognize your phone’s presence when you’re within proximity and you want to make a purchase, thus allowing shoppers to complete their transactions hands free. You simply have to inform the cashier that you’re paying via Google and provide your initials, and then they’ll input the information and complete the transaction.

The pilot program is set to roll out in the Southern San Francisco Bay Area today.

Hands Free
Image Credit: Google Commerce blog.
Image Credit: Google Commerce blog

“When you think about a user, in a bunch of situations, the experience is quite crummy right now, it’s quite clunky,” Google senior director of product management Pali Bhat said. “You don’t want your phone in the way, your wallet in the way, you don’t want your cash in the way. These are inconveniences that happen multiple times a day.”

The new program is therefore a way to make the entire process go seamlessly, similar to how Android and Apple Pay became a method that allowed shoppers to complete purchases using their phones and not having them need to take out their wallets and retrieve their cash or cards.

Should this new hands free system catch on, it might pave the way for more people to adopt Android Pay. Currently, Google reports that they are seeing 1.5 million new registrations per month in the US alone, with already 2 million locations accepting the Android tap payment system.

As Bhat says, “For us, it’s less about competition with other companies, in fact we believe that the more that mobile payments is adopted by users, it’s good for everyone.”