Big stuff is happening with Google Wallet, and besides that physical card Google just introduced yesterday, we’ve been keeping track of a major shift that arrived with Android 4.4 KitKat, wherein Android emulates a smartcard’s secure element, rather than requiring the actual hardware to be present. This is absolutely key to improving Wallet’s accessibility, as it should seriously hinder carrier efforts to prevent users from being able to make Wallet mobile payments. Problem was, even with Android 4.4 becoming available on more and more devices, the latest version of the Wallet app that supports this new way of doing things has been a Nexus 5 exclusive… until now.
An update to Google Wallet has just hit the Play Store, all set to take advantage of those new Android 4.4 features. In theory, all you’ll need to use Wallet to make mobile payments now is a KitKat phone that supports NFC and has a SIM card issued by a US carrier.
That’s just one component to today’s update, and we also see the arrival of some interesting features. For instance, the app gets an OCR mode that lets you snap a picture of your card in order to add it to Wallet – it will recognize the expiration date and all. There are also new references to that physical Wallet card, as well as bug fixes and more minor tweaks.