We’ve been eagerly waiting for prepaid options in Google’s Android Play Store from the day it started supporting paid apps. Prepaid cards do make sense, as buying apps from Play Store isn’t the easiest thing for folks who don’t have credit cards or those who aren’t comfortable dealing using their credit card online. For international users, the payment options are even more limited, and prepaid card is a practical option in such cases. Apple had implemented this feature long back, and Google is all set to follow Apple’s footsteps; however, a release date isn’t known yet.
Previously, Android Police had published some hidden images and links from the latest Google Play APK which suggested the gift cards were a part of the upcoming update of Play Store. The above screenshot shows a menu option on a selected app to redeem gift cards which testifies the fact that gift cards will be indeed a part of Android’s digital store experience. A new feature called wish list was also found, which lets you save and make a note of any apps and content that you come across on Google Play for future purchasing.
A new report has now surfaced which indicates that these cards have been spotted in retail stores and apparently are fully functional! The cards were spotted at a local Turnersville, NJ Target by one of its employees. The employee seemingly discovered the cards which were kept in the bins next to the checkout counters, waiting to be put up on the gift card display wall. Good news is that the system allows the transaction to happen, which means anyone shopping over at this store can grab it from the pile and purchase it. We’re not sure how many Targets are selling these cards, but it wouldn’t hurt to check out, would it?
The Target employee who spotted the vouchers was able to make an internal purchase at his branch, and sent the bad boy to Android Police, who then used their expertise to redeem the card well before the official launch. There was of course some trickery involved in redeeming the card as the Redeem page isn’t live on the web or the device Play Store.
The features are actually present in the new Play Store APK v3.8.15 which started rolling out few days back, however, the user interface doesn’t reveal these features yet. According to the APK, the redeem option is supposed to communicate with http://play.google.com/redeem, but opening that normally leads to a dead end. The redeem page doesn’t allow you to redeem cards without hacking, removing the stock app, or installing the re-signed hacked version, but according to Android Police, there is a simpler way to do that. The procedure is as follows:
Step 1. Install the Google Play 3.8.15 APK by downloading it to your device and installing as a regular app.
Step 2. Get the http://play.google.com/redeem link to open up in the Play Store instead of your browser. One easy way to do that is to email yourself the link and select Play Store while opening it.
Step 3. You’re done – say hello to the Redeem page.
Step 4. Enter the code and press Redeem.
Step 5. Now spend the Play Store balance on digital goodies.
And that’s the way you redeem a Play Store prepaid card way before the actual launch.
According to the tipster, there’s no NFC chip of any kind embedded in the prepaid card, so if you were thinking that tapping the card on your device will recharge your balance, you will be let down here as the card hasn’t reached that level of sophistication and you will have to actually stick to the good old method of punching in the code manually.
It isn’t confirmed yet, but you won’t be able to most probably purchase physical goods from Google Play. The above screenshot from Android Police shows how these vouchers cannot be used to buy devices from Play Store, thought that may not be the case once the vouchers are officially launched. As seen in the screenshot, a message called “Unsupported payment method” is shown adjacent to Google Play balance. You can nevertheless use the balance to buy digital items, like apps and other multimedia content.
Another website called Phandroid reported that Target isn’t the only place selling these bad boys after all. According to a screenshot of inventory list, apparently sent to them by a RadioShack employee, there will be three denominations to choose from: $10, $25, and $50. There’s no news as to when these vouchers will go on sale.
For those Android fans that are from UK and rest of the world outside the U.S., Play Store gift cards are likely not going to be in your market at launch. The launch of Google Play gift cards is great for both, customers and content providers. You may soon see a lot of phones shipping with one of these cards as an offer or something similar. Nevertheless, we’re eagerly waiting the day when general public can redeem these cards without any hacking involved.
What are your thoughts on prepaid cards? Let us know if you have spotted these cards at any store near you. Connect with us using the comment form below.