At its huge Google I/O keynote on Wednesday, Google announced some pretty bewildering, crazy products: massive changes to Maps; some incredible photography tricks; and an ambitious music service that meshes elements of iTunes, Pandora and Spotify.
But the craziest thing that Google introduced just might be a product that no one onstage in the three-hour keynote ever mentioned, or even hinted at. The announcement? It turns out that you can now attach money to your email using Gmail.
Yes, that's right: Real, live money, straight from your bank account, can now be attached to your Gmail, just like a vacation photo or a spreadsheet for work. If you owe a friend, there's no need to mail a check, or even get their bank account information -- just get their Gmail address, and a working Internet connection, and you can hit them back.
The curious addition to Gmail was announced, with little fanfare, on the Google Commerce blog, while Larry Page was taking questions at Google I/O. For the feature, both parties, payer and recipient, will need Google Wallet accounts; the service is free if your Google Wallet is linked to a bank account, or Google will charge a fee if it is attached to a credit or debit card.
Google put together a short video to explain this potentially transformative concept of how money changes hands; you just click the icon that looks like a dollar sign, right in between the Google Drive and photo icons, enter an amount, and -- poof -- money gets transferred to the person you are emailing:
Google Wallet is little used at this point, having struggled to take off on Android smartphones despite the increased presence of a technology called NFC, which enables the touch-to-pay commerce you may have seen in commercials. Google had been rumored to be rethinking its Wallet strategy around this time last year and it appears that the tech giant may just blanket your favorite devices and services with Google Wallet, in the hopes that it will increase usage.
So, what do you think? Will you be emailing your rent, or your share of the tab, any time soon? Or are you sticking to good old-fashioned bitcoin cash?
- Google Wallet