Android Pay for smartwatches finally breaks cover as Google plays catch-up

Android Pay could soon make an appearance on smartwatches after elements of the service showed up a new Google Play update.

Android Police spotted entries in Google Play Services v10.0, which indicate that the arrival of Google’s own contactless payment service on Android Wear may not be far away. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay have already arrived on consumers’ wrists but Android users have been left behind by Google.

But there may still be a while to wait. Android Pay is likely to feature in the long-awaited Android Wear 2.0 update, which was due to drop this quarter, but has now been shelved until 2017. That update will also feature standalone apps for Google-powered smartwatches as well as new complications and fitness features.

This week Samsung announced that users of its Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch would be able to take advantage of Samsung Pay no matter which Android smartphone they used. While that’s good news for some, existing Android Wear devices have been unable to jump into the exciting world of wrist payments.

The news will be a boost to Android Wear users that have been left frustrated by delays to Google’s operating system. Materially, Android Wear is little different to what launched in 2014 in terms of design and features. While smartwatches have evolved in that time, the ecosystem feels dated and out-of-touch.

But with two leaked Google-built smartwatches due to land next year, and updated OS and the arrival of wrist-based payments, 2017 could be the year Android Wear comes of age.