Google ends Hands Free mobile payments pilot, iOS app will stop working Feb. 8

Introduced in March for iOS and Android, Hands Free aimed to simplify the payment process for its users by allowing for confirmation of identity to be performed by the cashier. In theory, this allows for customers to conduct transactions with their payment cards and mobile phones safely stowed away in pockets or bags, leaving their hands free to carry their purchases and other items.

Hands Free used a combination of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location services to determine what store the smartphone owner is inside, and if it was a retailer participating in the program. At the point of payment, customers would advise they planned to “pay with Google,” with the cashier able to check the user’s identity using a photograph on the payment terminal’s display.

A notice on the project’s website revealed it will be shutting down next week, with users unable to make payments using the mobile apps from Feb. 8. Stores in the San Francisco Bay Area participating in the scheme will also find the payment system will be unavailable from the same date.

Google advises it will be working to “bring the best of the Hands Free technology to even more people and stores” following the app’s closure. While Google “can’t share any more details” about where the project is headed, it is likely some of the technology involved in its creation could be rolled into Android Pay, the company’s own NFC-based mobile payments platform and main competition to Apple Pay.

Alternative forms of mobile-based payments are also being trialled by other tech companies, looking to offer customers a streamlined shopping experience. In December, Amazon revealed it’s first ever grocery store called “Amazon Go,” which relied on customers checking in to the store with an app before being able to collect any shopping they want and leaving, with their Amazon account automatically billed based on what was taken.

For the moment, consumers are still enjoying the use of Apple Pay, with the number of transactions up 500 percent year-on-year, according to Apple’s recent quarterly financial results. The high usage helped boost the “Services” segment of Apple’s business to $7.17 billion for the quarter.

Uber Pivots Bengaluru’s Bike Taxi Pilot Into a Bike Pooling Programme

Uber Pivots Bengaluru's Bike Taxi Pilot Into a Bike Pooling Programme

Transportation aggregator Uber said Friday that it has some modifications to its ongoing bike taxi pilot service in Bengaluru with a commitment to operate within the existing legal framework on the state of Karnataka.

“To clarify, the UberMoto service was launched to operate at cost only – effectively encouraging bikers to share the cost of a ride and eliminating the need for additional permits. Uber will also not charge any service fee for the period of this pilot,” an emailed statement from Uber said.

Uber said that the launch of its bike taxi pilot, which launched on the same day as Ola Bikes, was made with a vision to reduce congestion and fill every empty seat – whether it’s a car or a bike on the road.

Bikes belonging to the two companies were seized soon after the launch by the Road Transport Authority, the Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety had told Gadgets 360 that these bikes needed a yellow board vehicle and permission from the deputy commissioner of the district to operate.

Ola had shut down its bike taxi services a week ago, with the bike taxi icon no longer available on the app. UberMoto still continues be listed on Uber’s app, and is still accepting registrations from users to sign up as an UberMoto rider.

“We commend the Karnataka Government for reaffirming their commitment to create progressive regulations soon that prioritises consumer choice, fosters innovation and helps improve the traffic situation in the city,” Uber said.

Haryana became the the second state in India after Goa to allow bike taxis as a mode of public transport in November 2015. Over 20 bike taxi services are currently operational in India, said startup data tracker Tracxn.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: Apps, Bengaluru, Bike Taxi, India, Internet, Ola, Uber, UberMoto

AAP Government to Pilot Free Public Wi-Fi Facility at Sant Nagar Market

AAP Government to Pilot Free Public Wi-Fi Facility at Sant Nagar Market

As per its vision to provide free Wi-Fi at markets in Delhi, the AAP government has decided to launch a three-month pilot project for it.

The government will launch the service at Sant Nagar Market area in north Delhi’s Burari on March 15 and users will be able to download 50MB data every day free of cost.

Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC), an advisory body of the AAP government, has roped in a local vendor of Sant Nagar Market for providing the facility.

“The vendor is already providing Wi-Fi service which is chargeable as of now. It will now provide freeWi-Fi service for three months on a trial basis. If we get good response, we will move the project further,” a senior government official said. During this period, the service provider will not charge the Delhi government.

Earlier this week, telecom operator Reliance Jio said it will provide free Wi-Fi services at six cricket stadiums during the upcoming T20 World Cup matches.

“Reliance Jio will install Wi-Fi network at six stadiums that will be complimentary for audience and provide unlimited access,” a RJIL spokesperson told reporters while launching the services at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi.

The company’s Wi-Fi network Jio Net will be available in Eden Garden at Kolkata, Wankhede Stadium (Mumbai), IS Bindra Stadium (Mohali), HPCA stadium (Dharamshala), Chinnaswamy Stadium (Bengaluru) and Feroz Shah Kotla (Delhi).

Jio Net was made operational at Wankhede Stadium during India and South Africa One-Day series in April 2015, where the company witnessed a record data usage.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: AAP, Delhi, India, Internet, Jio Net, Reliance Jio, Wi Fi