The digital wallets available on iPhone and Android phones are designed to take the place of physical wallets, which can often get overstuffed with cards, passes, and other items. But these digital wallets typically only support certain types of content. Now Google is looking to expand its own Wallet app to accept and store more types of information.
In a blog post published Thursday, Jenny Cheng, VP and GM for Google Wallet, revealed some of the new features headed for the company's digital wallet app. Among these are support for passes with barcodes or QR codes, health insurance cards, driver's licenses, transit passes, and company IDs
Add cards with barcodes or QR codes
To explain how Google Wallet will handle more types of passes, Cheng used the example of a gym membership card that normally couldn't be added to the app. But since the card has a barcode on it, Wallet users would soon be able to take a photo of it and create a secure, digital version. This new option will work for any card or pass that has a barcode or QR code, such as transit tickets, parking passes, and even e-commerce product return codes.
Add insurance cards
A health insurance card is another item we all jam into our physical wallets. To alleviate this burden, Google and Humana are developing a digital version of the insurance provider's card that can be added to the Wallet app. In the U.K., Android users will be able to store their National Insurance Number in Google Wallet from the HMRC app.
Further, a health insurance card can be saved in Wallet as a private pass. Such passes are labeled as private because they hold sensitive data. To combat unauthorized access, you'll need to use a PIN or fingerprint recognition as verification each time you want to add, view, or use an insurance card or other type of private pass.
Add driver's licenses
Google is also expanding its Wallet app to better support driver's licenses, according to Cheng. As of now, people in Maryland can add their ID to Google Wallet on any phone with Android 8 or higher. Such IDs can be presented at TSA PreCheck lines at certain airports. Over the next few months, residents of Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia will be able to do the same. Later in the year, Google will let you use your ID in Wallet to handle other tasks, such as booking a car and verifying an online account.
Save passes from Messages to Wallet
Also coming soon will be a way to transfer boarding passes and tickets from the Messages app to Wallet. To do this, you'll be able to complete your travel check-in steps via the Google's Messages app with RCS enabled. You'll then receive your boarding pass or train ticket directly in Messages from where you can then save it to the Wallet app. This option will kick off with Vietnam Airlines and Spanish train operator Renfe. As another use of this feature, restaurants will be able to send reservation information to customers, which they can then transfer to Wallet.
Use transit passes
As another enhancement, Google is working to allow more people to save local transit passes to the Wallet app. Presently, German citizens can save a Deutschlandticket bought at certain transit agencies to their Wallet and use it at all public transportation stations across the country.
Save your company ID
Finally, Google Wallet support is coming for corporate badges that would let employees use the Wallet app to gain access to buildings, cafeterias, and other areas.
Google didn't give a specific timeframe for the rollout of these new features other to say that most of them are coming soon. To try out the latest developments when they go live, you'll need to set up Google Wallet, which is already installed and available on Android devices. If necessary, you can download and install the app from Google Play.