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Apple Pay vs Android Pay: What’s the difference?

Barclays beats Android Pay to UK with its own ‘wave and pay’ system

Android Pay, Google’s new mobile payments system announced at theGoogle I/O 2015 developer conference, will be making its way to smartphones later this year as part of Android Marshmallow.

Despite a leaked message (via Android Police) claiming the service, which offers a way for users to pay for goods online and in store using their mobile device, would go live in the US on 26 August, it is yet to make an appearance. Therefore expectations have once again turned to a release alongside the new Android Marshmallow mobile OS, which is expected to start rolling out to consumers in October or November.

For in-the-flesh purchases, Android Pay uses NFC technology, allowing users to simply unlock their phone and hold it next to a special reader, much like a contactless credit or debit card.

For in-app or online purchases, users will be presented with a “Buy with [Android] Pay” option, which they can make use of with a single tap.

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12/05/2016: Barclays has released its own mobile payment app before Android Pay has landed in the UK, with the bank adding that it will not support Google’s own offering.

Barclays’ nameless Android-based payments system will go live next month, reports 9to5Google, while Android Pay has yet to crossover to the UK following its launch in the US

From June, the bank’s customers will be able to use their smartphone to ‘wave and pay’ in shops and restraurants with contactless terminals.

The service can also be used across London’s transport network, and generally operates in the same way as a contactless bank card.

Customers will need to install the Barclays mobile banking app to make use of the service, though the app only supports the latest NFC-equipped devices.

Is Android Pay the same as Apple Pay?

In a word, yes. Both use NFC technology in real-world scenarios and both offer one-tap online payments. Fundamentally, the only real difference is the operating system it is running on – if you have an iOS device, you will have to use Apple Pay and if you have an Android device you will have to use Android Pay (or Samsung Pay, if you have a Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge).

Apple Pay does have one feature that Android Pay does not, however: it works on smartwatches (specifically Apple Watch), whereas Android Pay so far only appears to work on Android proper and not Android Wear.

Is Android Pay the same as Samsung Pay?

Not really, no. Samsung Pay only works with the newest Samsung devices and also does not use NFC. Instead, it uses proprietary “Magnetic Secure Transmission” technology, which means it is compatible with card machines that only have a magentic strip reader.

Samsung Pay also only works in-store, not online.

Is Android Pay safe?

According to Google, “security is at the centre of Android Pay” and the technology uses “industry standard security tokenisation”, which it developed in conjunction with the likes of American Express, MasterCard and Visa.

“When you shop at a store, Android Pay won’t send your actual credit or debit card number with your payment,” said Google in a blog post. “Instead we’ll use a virtual account number to represent your account information – providing you with an extra layer of security.”

“And if your phone is ever lost or stolen, simply use Android Device Manager to instantly lock your device from anywhere, secure it with a new password or even wipe it clean of your personal information,” Google added.

However, it is impossible for IT Pro to independently validate these claims.

Is Android Pay available in the UK?

Android Pay is not officially available anywhere currently, although Google claims it “will soon be accepted in over 700,000 store locations … across the US”. The official roll-out is expected to commence in October or November.


McCallion, J. and Preece, C. (2016) Apple pay vs Android pay: What’s the difference? Available at: http://www.itpro.co.uk/android/24705/apple-pay-vs-android-pay-whats-the-difference-2 (Accessed: 13 May 2016).

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