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Google Wallet heading to Apple iOS devices?

Mobile security specialist Intrepidus Group says it has uncovered mention of iOS in the source code for Google Wallet, suggesting that the search giant could have already developed a version of its mobile wallet that could run on NFC-enabled Apple products.

Google Wallet's iOS references
GOOGLE WALLET: Do references to iOS in code mean Google knows something or is the search giant just well prepared? Click to enlarge.

Mobile security specialist Intrepidus Group reports that it has discovered information in the Android Google Wallet source code that suggests the search giant has already included the capability to run the mobile wallet app on NFC-enabled Apple iOS devices.

“Looks like Google is working on developing their contactless NFC Wallet for iOS devices,” Intrepidus’ Corey Benninger told NFC World.”There’s hints of it in their Android client.”

When you decompile an Android application, which isn’t obfuscated, you’re able to see the same class names, method names, variable names, and other identifiers as in the developer’s source code. In this case, Google Wallet includes a package called “wallet.proto” which contains parsers for any “Protocol Buffer” formatted data the application uses.

While the name “Protocol Buffers” sounds generic, it’s actually Google’s well-documented mechanism for serializing data (think of it as their version of XML orPLists). If you followed the Google Wallet PIN hashing issue, you’ll remember that the PIN hash is stored in a protocol buffer.

The “WalletShared” protocol buffers package in the current version of Google Wallet contains hints of iOS within the parsers definitions. This includes defining the “DeviceContext -> HardwareType” field with only two values: “ANDROID” and “IOS”. iOS strings are also found in two additional protocol buffers called “IosDevice” and “IosWallet”.

“If Google is developing Google Wallet for iOS, it raises numerous questions,” says Intrepidus. “Since iOS devices do not currently include an NFC radio or secure element, is Google planning to release a case, or ‘sleeve’, with these components? Or do they know something about the next iPhone we don’t?”

A blog post written by the mobile security experts explains the company’s findings in detail.

What do readers think? Could Google really have ambitions to take its NFC wallet to Apple devices?

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One comment on this article

  1. an agreement between google and apple to jointly launch m-payments would be totally disruptive. would you imagine linking your itunes account to a gwallet? 😉

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