While clearly on a path of its own towards mainstream popularity and global ubiquity, Android Pay remains several steps behind arch-rival services from Apple and Samsung in a number of important aspects.
The most obvious one is of course participating countries and banks, but weirdly enough, both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay have gotten substantial head starts as far as smartwatch functionality is concerned.
Ironically, Samsung’s proprietary digital wallet solution now officially works on the Gear S3 even when connected to a non-Galaxy Android phone, whereas Google’s mobile payment app has directly supported Android handhelds from a wide range of brands since day one, still refusing to expand to your wrist.
But tap-to-pay capabilities are coming to NFC-enabled Android Wear devices soon enough, most likely when the platform’s delayed 2.0 version finally rolls out, alongside a new wave of wrist-worn gadgets. That may include one or two homebrewed Google smartwatches, which would explain the lengthy wait for Android Wear – Android Pay unification.
Big G probably needs unique selling points for its… Pixel (?) watches, now more than ever, as the fledgling market segment hits an unexpected slump.
In marginally related news, behind-the-scenes Mountain View software work also suggests Instant Apps will be ready for primetime before long. With the new feature, Android phones are looking at blazing fast access to apps, no installation requirement.