Samsung has taken direct aim at Apple’s iOS and its Passbook app with the announcement of its new Samsung Wallet app during a developer conference at the Mobile World Congress
Wallet app lets users store things such as event tickets, boarding passes, membership cards and coupons in one central location, which is pretty much exactly what Apple’s Passbook does. And what Samsung has done with the icon of the app, many will consider to be a form of trolling. The icon shares many similarities with Apple’s Passbook icon, even down to the colours used on the cards.
Samsung Wallet app was showed off at the developer conference at MWC (image credit: Steve Stroughton Smith / Twitter)
There are more common features too. Passbook and Wallet both offer time and location-based push notifications to alert users when their stored passes can be used. The Wallet app also provides real-time updates for things such as points on your member cards and changes on boarding passes or event tickets. The passes stored within the app have bar codes that can be scanned at payment or check-in terminals. Samsung has also invited third-party developers to make apps that integrate with Wallet to add to the passes and tickets arsenal.
During the dev conference, the Korean electronics giant unveiled a few features of the new app during the keynote. Currently, the app is not out on the Google Play Store, but developers can preview it by downloading the SDK and API guides. Samsung said the final app will be available in the near future.
The company has tied up with several partners who will support the Wallet passes. Among them are Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Lufthansa, who will support the passes when the app launches. However, surprisingly, Samsung has not integrated any NFC payment features into Wallet. Over the past year or so, Samsung has given a big push to the NFC support on its top-end phones. And despite the company’s new partnership with Visa's PayWave service to bring NFC-enabled payments. The partnership is part of the "Visa Ready Program", which allows all sorts of companies including manufacturers and carriers to connect to Visa's payment systems. Visa says that future Samsung customers will be able to connect any Visa credit or debit card to the secure NFC element in the smartphones to make payments on the go.
Samsung has not gone with NFC-based payments as their research shows retailers prefer barcodes over that particular technology. This is due to various reasons, chief among which is that retailers don't have to install any new infrastructure to support it.
Samsung has already confirmed an event for March 14, where the company is expected to announce the new Galaxy S4. It is widely believed that the S4 will be one of the first phones to feature Wallet, among other new features.