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Business

Google challenges Apple with Android Pay

Google has unveiled a new pay-with-a-phone system for Android devices in an attempt to boost mobile payments. The new application may also allow the company to better compete with rival Apple.

Android Pay, unveiled at the Google Developers' conference in San Francisco on Thursday, brings together mobile carriers, payment networks, banks and retailers. It allows smartphone users to use their handsets instead of payment cards, and comes after Apple unveiled a similar system last year.

Like Apple's system, Android Pay can be used to store major credit and debit cards in smartphones that can be used to pay merchants equipped with terminals that work with the technology.

At the event, the Mountainview-based firm presented the next version of its Android operating system that will boast new ways to fetch information and protect privacy on mobile devices, among other things. The Android update is currently known simply as "M".

'An exciting journey'

Most of the Android renovations unveiled on Thursday, however, won't be available until late summer or early fall. That's around the same time that Apple is expected to release the latest overhaul of the iOS software that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Google engineering vice president Dave Bruke said Android Pay would work in more than 700,000 US retail outlets that accept contactless payments.

"We are at the start of an exciting journey, we are working closely with payment networks, banks and developers," he said.

A Google blog post said the system was in partnership with the major credit card firms including Visa and Mastercard and payment processing firms including Braintree, CyberSource, First Data, Stripe and Vantiv.

Both Google and Apple are vying to make their products more ubiquitous by transplanting much of their mobile technology into automobiles and Internet-connected televisions and appliances.

At its conference, Google also annonced the launch of a new photo service providing unlimited storage of all pictures up to 16 megapixels and high-defintion video up to 1080p.

The service, called Google Photos, will be available on Android and Apple devices. As AP news agency put it, it "is the latest example of Google's desire to wrap its tentacles around virtually every part of people's lives."

sri/hg (AFP, AP)

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