Google announced to users today that it is shutting down its Hands Free payment service on February 8th. The feature was quietly announced at Google I/O in 2015 and launched to the public in a pilot program back in March of 2016.
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For those unfamiliar, Google Hands Free worked by using Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi, and location services to detect if a user was in a participating store. From there, when the time to pay came, the cashier would ask for the initials of the customer and confirm their identity based on their profile picture.
In this evening’s email to testers, Google explains that it will take the attention currently put towards Hands Free and shift it towards Android Pay and other efforts. To encourage Hands Free users to make the switch, Google is offering a $10 Whole Foods gift card to customers who use Android Pay at any stores.
Google doesn’t offer any details as to whether the technology used with Hands Free will be implemented into Android Pay, but for now, it appears that won’t be the case.
Hands Free users have until February 8th to use any unredeemed rewards and once the app shuts down, all user data will be deleted to preserve privacy.
The full email from Google to Hands Free pilot program members is below:
Thank you for being among the first to try our Hands Free technology. Since launching the pilot last March, we’ve learned so much from you and our other early adopters.
Based on all the positive feedback, we’re now working to bring the best of the technology to even more people and stores. To focus our efforts, we’ll be shutting down the Hands Free app on February 8. You won’t be able to pay with Hands Free after that, so be sure to redeem any unused rewards before then.
In the meantime, we encourage you to start enjoying quick, easy checkout with Android Pay. If you set it up and try it at any store within the next 2 weeks, we’ll give you a $10 Whole Foods gift card.* The gift card will automatically appear in your Android Pay app within a week after your first purchase.
When the Hands Free app shuts down, your photo and settings will be permanently deleted to protect your privacy.
While we can’t share any more details about what’s next just yet, opt in to our email updates and we’ll keep you in the loop. If you have any questions, visit our FAQ.
The Hands Free Team