What you need to know
- Google Pay will now support COVID-19 status cards with an update to the Passes API.
- Only approved developers from recognized health organizations will be able to take advantage of this.
- It's also being limited to the U.S. first, though Google notes that it'll be coming to other countries later.
Google today announced support for digital COVID-19 vaccination cards in the U.S. in Google Pay. Today, developers who are affiliated with healthcare organizations or public health authorities will be able to use Google's Passes API to create a digital card that will enable Android users to demonstrate vaccination status or test results.
Accessing a card or pass created with this method is easy, as users will be able to create a home screen shortcut for it and access it in areas with weak internet access.
Google is working on making this secure and private for customers. Your health data is stored on whatever device you save it on. It will not be synced between devices you happen to be signed into, the company says.
Similarly, Google will not be using any data from COVID-19 cards and passes to target ads.
Finally, you'll need to have a password or other security measure protecting this data, and you'll need to enter it to display the vaccination card. Most of the best Android phones come with biometric security, so this shouldn't be too much of an issue as far as speed of access is concerned.
The new Google Pay app remains available in the U.S. and India now, but the older version will be sufficient. Indeed, Google has built Pay into Play Services, allowing users to use many of its features without having access to the full app. Additionally, the company says that installing Google Pay "is not a requirement to access COVID Cards."
As mentioned above, the rollout is beginning today, but Google is reaching out to interested developers to sign on.
It's worth noting that developer uptake may vary in non-U.S. countries with centralized healthcare systems. In the UK, for example, the UK's National Health Service offers two separate apps for viewing the vaccination status of any interested person, while Germany offers the same with CovPass.