Google Wallet Returns, Replaces Google Pay on US Phones

Surprise, Google’s got a new app. OK, you’re probably not all that surprised. Google has always had an on-again, off-again relationship with the housemade apps that Android phones use to access its services. Specifically, Google often likes to make big changes to them, rebrand them, or just suddenly kill them dead with little explanation. The latest Google app update is actually a resurrection: Google Wallet has returned to store all your cards and personal info.

“But wait,” you ask, “isn’t Google Pay a thing? Doesn’t it already do that?” Well yes, it does. In fact, back when the Google Pay app launched, it replaced the old versions of Google Wallet and Android Pay on mobile phones. But at its IO event in May, Google announced it was bringing Wallet back with some new features that aren’t included with Pay.

Here are the differences. Google Pay can store credit card info and link to digital payment services like PayPal. It can also hold airline boarding passes, proof of vaccination cards, and some transit cards. The new Google Wallet can also do all of those things, plus store your driver’s license and unlock your car if you drive a vehicle that supports digital keys.

The Google Pay app on your phone will be replaced by the Google Wallet app soon, and all your payment info and other stuff you have stored in Google Pay will show up in Google Wallet. Google will also scrub your email for gift cards or any company’s loyalty programs you’re enrolled in. (For example, when I first logged into Google Wallet, it instantly pulled up my Southwest Airlines rapid rewards number, a thing I had completely forgotten I had.) Just know that if you delete the emails containing that info, then those data will disappear from Wallet.

For most countries, these new features will just be added as updates to the existing Google Pay app. But if you’re in the US or Singapore, Wallet and Pay will be two separate apps going forward. Confusing? Yes. Quintessentially Google? Very much so. It’s especially odd considering Google mashed together two of its video chat apps just last month.

If you’re confused, just get and use the Google Wallet app. It has the newest features, it feels very…