Samsung took the wraps off of its new Samsung Wallet app during a developer conference at Mobile World Congress on Wednesday. The Wallet app is designed to let users store things such as event tickets, boarding passes, membership cards, and coupons in one central location, much in the same fashion as Apple's Passbook app for iOS. In addition, Wallet offers time and location-based push notifications (again, just like Passbook) to alert users as to when they are able to use the passes stored in their account, and it provides real-time updates for membership points and boarding pass changes. Third-party developers will be able to integrate with Wallet to easily let users add passes and tickets to the app, but any app integration has to be approved by Samsung. Passes saved within the app feature bar codes that can be scanned at payment terminals. Unfortunately, there aren't any NFC tap-to-pay features in Wallet, even though Samsung recently announced a new partnership with Visa to ship future smartphones with the NFC-powered PayWave service.
The Passbook influence is quite evident
The company showed off a few features of the new app during its developer keynote, and it's quite clear that Samsung took its design inspiration for Wallet from Apple's Passbook (even down to the icon that Samsung used). When we asked why Samsung did not include NFC tap-to-pay features in Wallet, the company said that retailers prefer barcodes over NFC because they don't have to install any new infrastructure to support it. Samsung didn't rule out NFC features in Wallet for the future, however.
Currently, Wallet is only available as a preview for developers, who can download the SDK and API guides for it now, and the app itself will be available in Samsung's app store in the near future. Samsung says that it has lined up partnerships with Walgreens, Belly, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Lufthansa for the app's launch, and it plans to bring more partners on once the app is actually available.
Samsung is planning to announce the new Galaxy S IV on March 14th, and we expect that Wallet will be one of the many new features shown off during Samsung's launch event. You can see a brief demo of the app with a Lufthansa boarding pass in the video below.
Aaron Souppouris contributed to this report.