Google Wallet has had a tough time getting on to people’s phone, and now it seems Google is taking itself down even further by making the service exclusive to users who have Android 4.4 KitKat or above. The app won’t be affected other than the loss of tap to pay. Many users on networks such as Verizon probably won’t notice this change anyway because they aren’t allowed to use the feature because of carriers restrictions.
If you have been using tap to pay with a 4.3 or below device Google has most likely sent you an email regarding the change and they have also updated support pages. The reason Google states for doing this is because KitKat “works with different technology for an improved experience”. This is referring to host-card emulation (HCE) that was added into Android 4.4 that allows users to make secure-NFC purchases without the need for a secure element in their NFC chips.
Google is hurting themselves a little bit with this new policy since a mere 2.5% of the Android ecosystem is KitKat.
This email was sent to Droid Life from a reader. It came from the Google Wallet team announcing the new policy.
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