The Joy of Mobile (and Android Pay)

NYC WeekendMy last weekend’s experience is illustrative of how much technology is slowly becoming intertwined and transforming our lives. Stuck with hotel rewards points that we needed to use or lose, my husband, Michael, and I made plans to head to the Big Apple for an extended Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.


On the day of our long drive, we packed up the car and our pooch and headed out. As we were leaving, Michael pulled up his Philips Hue app to set the schedule for the smart light bulbs he’d installed around our home for home security (and for his entertainment).


Once on the highway I realized that we had forgotten a few things…including lowering the heat to conserve energy! No problem. I whipped out our ecobee mobile app and adjusted the temperature. (My husband has been slowly geeking out our house installing all sorts of smart devices.) We were then good to go.


An hour and a half into our drive we found ourselves hungry and on the lookout out for a healthy food option. Sighting a Subway sign we pulled over. After letting the pooch out to do her business, we walked in. Spotting the Android Pay sign on the point-of-sale reader we decided to check it out. While Michael has an iPhone and frequently uses Apple Pay where he can, I had yet to try out Android Pay on my cell phone.


The set up process was swift. Perhaps because I was already a Google Wallet user (Android Pay was rebranded from Google Wallet) it had my default card information and I simply needed to insert my 3-digit CVV code to get started. Paying was easy and flawless. One quick tap, verification with a code and the transaction was done. A second later my screen popped up with the receipt. (Picture below of the mobile receipt.)


Subway receipt

Note that the last 4 digits of the card number has been purposely masked.


My husband remarked that the transaction seemed faster with Android Pay than Apple Pay. I’m not sure why that would be the case, but perhaps it’s true. Everywhere we tried it after that while in New York City, at the convenience store, in cabs, the experiences were all fast and seamless.



NYC cab accepting Android Pay


Once we arrived in Manhattan and settled in our room, we decided to pick up some bottles of water and a few other things setting out for the Duane Reade right next to our hotel. We were delighted to again discover that they accepted mobile payments.


It became a daily routine to bundle up, tuck the cell phone into our pockets before running out for a quick errand. Here’s a video of my husband using Android Pay…

Michael demonstrates using Android Pay, unlocking the phone, tapping against the terminal (sometimes we found that an extra pin was required for authentication) and you’re done.


As a tourist in the big city the last thing I wanted to do was carry around a bulky purse, digging around in the frigid cold weather (3 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill on some days), and attracting unwanted attention. I also knew that if I lost my phone I could wipe out my information more rapidly unlike a lost physical wallet where happy thieves could go on a spending spree before I may even realize I was missing my wallet.


Unfortunately not all merchants, and especially restaurants have adopted the newer reader technology, so we had to turn to either cash or swiping credit cards from Michael’s wallet (since I had avoided carrying a purse) as we did when we walked into a small dog friendly café in Central Park.


Coffee shop in Central Park


In general, however, we could rely on our phones for many of our regular activities. Beyond paying with the cell phone at point-of-sale devices at stores and cab rides, we took a fair number of Uber rides trying out their “car pooling” option; it was something we only encountered in NY and that made their surcharge prices palatable. The only issue we discovered with mobile transactions is when our phones were nearly out of juice (or in Michael’s case, completely dead) – a circumstance we both found ourselves in while standing outside a windy, stormy Whitney Museum with multiple Uber drivers canceling their attempts to reach us. In the end we walked to the nearest busy corner, hailed a cab, and yes, successfully used Android Pay when we reached our hotel. In the future, we’ll be making sure to carry an extra power cord …and without Michael around I may even have to carry a wallet!

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