Google shutters Hands Free payment service, but hints it will live again

Hands Free, Google’s, well, hands-free method of mobile payment, is riding off into the sunset. The service, which launched in March exclusively in South Bay, California, will be shut down on February 8 — though the company is reassuring users that this likely won’t be the last they hear of it.

According to the website, Google is now working “to bring the best of the Hands Free technology to even more people and stores,” which hints that aspects could make their way to Android Pay down the line. Hands Free worked nothing like Google’s flagship payment platform, as it utilized a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi, location detection, and voice commands to function, instead of merely NFC.

Thus Hands Free was quite complicated under the surface, but theoretically simple in practice. Once the phone determined it was in a supported retailer, it would listen for a triggering command, like “I’ll pay with Google.” The clerk on the other side of the counter would verify the user’s photo ID that they uploaded themselves through the Hands Free app, and the deal was done.

Google was pushing Hands Free quietly, and locally. Last July, it encouraged individuals to try the experimental service through a promotion with McDonald’s, where customers could get a free meal at one of the fast-food chain’s 47 restaurants in San Jose, California.

At the time, Google said it was working on ways to speed up the identification process — namely, using in-store cameras to automatically verify users’ appearance and keeping their credit card data on file for instant transactions. While that may have been too invasive for some, Google stipulated at the time that all data kept by Hands Free terminals was sandboxed from its own servers as well as those of the merchant, and deleted immediately post-purchase.

On the Hands Free website, Google says it has “learned so much from [its] early adopters” since launching the service last spring, and invites users to “enjoy quick, easy checkout with Android Pay” as it prepares the next step.


Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Here's our take on the best game-streaming services currently out there

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game streaming services.

Need a date for Valentine's Day? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.

It looks like Google may get rid of the back button in Android Q

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Social Media

Instagram to make giving easier with a Stories donation sticker for fundraisers

Instagram is preparing to launch a donation feature within Stories that would allow users to raise cash for a range of nonprofit charities. The company confirmed it's aiming to launch the donation sticker later this year.

The Huawei P30 will zoom into view on March 26 in Paris

The Huawei P30 Pro will be announced on March 26, 2019. It has already started to leak ahead of this date, and expectations are high that the company will improve even further on the P20 Pro's camera.

First phone specs reveal premium is the path for Vivo spinoff Iqoo

A new smartphone brand has launched. It's called Iqoo, and it's a sub-brand of Vivo, the Chinese device manufacturer owned by BBK Electronics. Excitingly, details about its first phone are slowly being released.

Need speed? Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon X55, the world’s fastest 5G modem

Qualcomm is preparing for an even faster future: The silicon giant just unveiled a second generation 5G modem for smartphones, promising blistering download speeds as high as 7Gbps.

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…