My frustration with Android Pay and Smartlock

Google had recently been running a promotion in which selected users (including myself) could win a free Chromecast if these users made 10 purchases using Android Pay by the end of February. I have attempted to complete these 10 transactions and earn my $35 streaming device, but the experience has been rather frustrating. It took some time to figure out why, but the culprit of my frustration is Android’s Smartlock feature, which disables the lock screen under certain circumstances.

I have been using Smartlock since it was first introduced. It’s a convenient feature, despite the reduction of security it invites. I have had it set to disable my lock screen when my phone is connected to my smart watch and I also enabled the on-body detection method which disables it when it detects my phone is in my pocket. It does pose some risks, but my phone is generally very close to me under these circumstances.

Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payment system. It allows users to add their credit and debt cards to the app, then tap the phone to a point-of-sales station to pay with one of the selected cards. It doesn’t work everywhere, but many stores are adopting the technology. The concept seems easy enough that anyone could do it. However, the little success I’ve experienced with this has made me feel embarrassed, especially considering my comfort with technology.

The experiences I’ve had are that my payment attempts often fail or result in a loop of payment, disconnect, and retrying on my phone. Because I have Smartlock, I don’t have to enter my unlock code all of the time to access my phone and I began to suspect this was the reason for my lack of success. I noticed the times it was successful, Android Pay would prompt me for my unlock code when I attempted to make a transaction. The times it failed, I was never prompted. Sadly, it failed more often than it didn’t. This ruined the experience for me. I understand the requirement to enter an unlock code for security reasons, but I don’t understand why it is so buggy that it won’t prompt me to do so most of the time.

After completely disabling Smartlock from my phone, I have had zero failures with Android Pay. I hope that you don’t share my disappointment, but if you do I hope this helps provide you with the information you need to have a better experience.

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