Just in time for the holidays, Google kicks off off Android Pay promos in the U.K.

Google Pay
Nick Mokey/Digital Trends
Let’s face it: 2016 was a depressing year. David Bowie. Brexit. Harambe. But it isn’t over yet, and Google is shining a light into the dark abyss with a new gift-giving promotion. On Tuesday, the search giant announced “Shop, Tap, Reward,” a rewards program that will see Android Pay users in the United Kingdom gifted virtual Christmas crackers — paper goodie bags that explode in confetti when torn apart — every time they use Android Pay at a U.K. store or on the Transport for London network.

From now until the end of the year, permanent and temporary residents of the British Isles will receive digital gifts every time they “tap to pay” with Android Pay on at least five separate occasions. Every purchase will earn them a chance to win one of over 100,000 varieties of gift cards including a Costa Coffee voucher (10 British pounds, or $12.72), a pair of tickets for ODEON Cinemas, a 500-pound ($635.88) House of Fraser card or a 500-pound Currys PC World gift card. And in addition, each tap will generate virtual coins that can be redeemed for a free 3-pound ($3.82) Costa Coffee gift card.

Accompanying the contest are a collection of “celebratory” Android Pay animations featuring Android’s mascot, Bugdroid. When you tap to pay, you’ll see Bugdroid in a snowglobe, or skiing about a frozen lake, or popping out of a wrapped package, or rendered in gingerbread.

And those aren’t the only gifts Google’s giving this season. This past week, Google rolled out two features for frequent London Tube riders: incomplete journey notifications and daily travel summary. The former notifies riders if they forget to tap in or out at any station so they can request a refund from the Transport for London website. The latter tracks station names and bus numbers and attaches a summary of riders’ daily journeys to their Transport for London transactions.

In related news, ride-hailing app Uber’s joining the Android Pay family. Starting today, Uber riders in the U.K. will see the option to pay with Android Pay. And as part of a limited-time promotion, users’ next 10 rides (up to 5 pounds per ride) will be discounted up to 50 percent off when they use Android Pay.

161203_ap_blogpost_herofinal-width-1200

“Android Pay … is becoming one of the U.K.’s favorite ways to shop since its launch this past May,” Pali Bhat, Global Head of Payment Products at Google, wrote in a blog post. “Adoption of Android Pay is growing rapidly as people are tapping on the Tube, in stores, and in their favorite apps.”

That’s no exaggeration. According to the UK Cards Association, more than one in five card payments are now made using a contactless card or device. The number of contactless transactions increased from 89 million in August 2015 to 260.7 million in August 2016. And customers are spending more on contactless transactions: the average transaction was 8.97 pounds ($11.41) this year, compared to 7.12 pounds ($9.05) in 2015.

That bodes well for Android Pay, which is now available in seven countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Poland, and New Zealand.

Product Review

Fascinating Finney phone is crypto in a nutshell: Exciting, but also terrifying

The Sirin Labs Finney phone is to cryptocurrency what the iPhone is to Apple Pay. It facilitates the payment, processing, and exchanging of cryptocurrencies on a smartphone, and surprisingly does it in a user-friendly way.
Deals

The Powerbeats3 wireless earphones are $110 off for Presidents’ Day

There area a lot of benefits of having wireless headphones, including Bluetooth capability and water resistance, to name just two. Beats makes some of the best, and its $200 Powerbeats3 wireless earphones are more than half off right now on…
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Mobile

Save space on your iPhone by turning off Live Photos in the camera app

If you want to save storage space on your iPhone or reduce the size of your backup for iCloud, then you should think about turning off Live Photos in the camera app. Find out exactly how to do it with our easy guide.
Mobile

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.
Mobile

Google’s radical Gmail redesign is finally rolling out on Android

Google is slowly but surely giving its apps a refresh, modernizing them and ensuring that they're easy to use. The latest app to get a redesign is the Gmail app for Android, which has been redesigned with a few tweaks.
Product Review

Galaxy Watch Active is the right size, no matter how big or small your wrist is

Launched among a massive array of other new products, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could easily have been missed at Galaxy Unpacked 2019 -- which would be unfortunate. This is a sensibly designed, correctly sized smartwatch suitable for…
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cases to protect your $1,000 phone

Can't get enough of big phones? The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is absolutely up your alley. But it's still fragile, and damage is easily gathered through normal life. Protect it with the best Galaxy S10 Plus cases.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.
Mobile

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Health & Fitness

Nike’s Android app is bricking its $350 Adapt BB self-lacing shoes

A firmware update for Nike's new self-lacing Adapt BB shoe appears to be bricking the $350 footwear for some owners. Android users have said the Nike app no longer pairs with the shoe, rendering the tightening mechanism useless.
Mobile

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.
Mobile

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.
Mobile

Sony partnership with Light aims to take smartphone photography to new heights

Smartphone photography is in its ascendancy, and a new partnership between Light and Sony hopes to lift it to new heights through the development of multi-image sensor solutions for smartphones. We spoke to Light to find out more.