Not having enough stress in my life I decided to try Google Wallet NFC technology on the Samsung Nexus S 4G (Sprint). Of course I didn't realize that was what I was up to, I thought I was just going to try about the new NFC tech...
Sprint made it simple. I have a dual phone plan so the Nexus S doesn't cost me any extra $$$ per month. I've got the iPhone 4S as my "phone" and the Nexus S is my theoretical personal hot spot with NFC capability e.g. will never be used as a phone except in dire emergencies (the iPhone 4S isn't around or is not working).
The first warning sign of choppy waters ahead: Sprint has tap terminals but the clerk told me their tap terminals don't work with the Nexus S 4G! I can't even fathom how that could be and I haven't been back to confirm this bomb shell but things have not been all smooth sailing elsewhere either so I'm believing the clerk so far.
My first official NFC payment was at Petco. This was awkward as even though I'd gotten my Google Prepaid card, my $10 and then added more $$$ to it and set it as the default card... the "Secure Element" apparently needed a bit more cycling to get it to work the first time. I had to beep the terminal four times to get my first transaction to go through.
But through it went and the Petco clerk was all excited because she'd never had anyone pay with a cellphone before!
I got home and Cleo ate some cat food and I analyzed the transaction log. Pretty slim pickings so far. I turned on the GPS logging so I'd have a bit more detail on the next transaction.
I then dug through the local offers and found an NFC coupon for a $2 Jamba Juice that expired the next day (Nov 13, 2011). So I got up today and headed over to Bellevue Square to get my $2 Jamba Juice and make my second NFC payment.
I was met with "We don't have a tap terminal". No tap terminal meant no $2 Jamba Juice and no NFC payment. I should have walked away but I went ahead and used conventional plastic and paid full price.
I buried my nose in the phone to check that Google really thought this Jamba Juice was supposed to be tap-able and time flew by. What I only vaguely noticed was them calling "Zack, I've got an order up for Zack." Turns out the clerk had gotten my name wrong and by the time we figured that out my drink was ruined. They refused to re-make it and I wound up tossing it in the trash.
Total bust on second Google Wallet foray: No coupon, no NFC, no drink.
I then went to the Apple Store at Bellevue Square and used their Easy Pay system in their iPhone Apple Store app. I used the camera on my iPhone 4S to scan the barcode on the item, pressed the pay now button, entered the security code off my card for the "first transaction" and walked out of the store never having spoken to a clerk. My phone chimed with incoming email as the emailed receipt arrived before I even got half way to the door.
Count on Apple to make their tech work first time with no hassles.
On the way home I had targeted my 3rd NFC transaction at a local Bartell's Drug store, which was listed as tap-able and I had actually seen the terminals on prior visits. Sure enough, they had them.
Unfortunately I walked smack into a scenario Google didn't cover in their FAQ, videos, or How to Make a Purchase instructions included in the Google Wallet app: please sign sir. Even though my phone clearly showed the money having been handed over their terminal didn't accept the money because I hadn't signed.
My phone swore up and down it had sent the money. The manager swore up and down they didn't have it.
We ran the transaction again and I signed an X on the terminal, which definitely got the manager's goat, but the terminal took the money anyway. The phone showed two transactions to Bartell's but my account balance so far only shows one deduction.
Yes, I'll have to re-check that condition in the morning.
And yes, Google got a whole bunch of feed back when I got home.
The first item was: please add a web based feed back form. Right now they make you chisel in feed back directly on the phone. Pure misery.
And to put a cherry on top of my adventures in Google Wallet? When I got home the Nexus S which had been fully charged when I left home? After my 3.5 hour adventure: the battery was at 35%!!!
I'll give it a few more days but I think Google Wallet isn't ready for prime time, the personal hot spot on the Nexus S 4G doesn't work very well (terrible 4G coverage) and the battery life is incredibly poor. It's looking grim for me keeping this thing instead of taking it back to Sprint.