Google wallet just got a genuinely useful upgrade

Auto-detection means your Google Wallet will be able to spot new bookings and add them to your tickets and boarding passes

EMBARGOED UNTIL 4PM 4 OCTOBER 2023/ Google Pixel Watch 2 press images
(Image credit: Google)

Google has just upgraded Google Wallet with a new feature that'll genuinely make your life easier – provided you're a Gmail user. The new feature, which is rolling out now, means that whenever a confirmation email containing a movie ticket or boarding pass is sent to your Gmail inbox, Google Wallet will pick it up and add it automatically.

As it's a new feature it might not work for every theatre chain or airline just yet, and while it's a global feature it's a safe bet that Google will focus first on the big US names. As Google says in the release notes, "This integration is live for some global movie chains and airlines and we are working to expand this." 

But when it's fully rolled out it's going to be a very welcome addition that follows in the footsteps of the Google Wallet upgrade for Wear OS smartwatches that we reported on a few weeks ago. That makes your your Pixel Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch even more useful by bringing transit passes, boarding passes, tickets, gym memberships and loyalty cards to your wrist.

Why auto-detection makes life easier

As an iPhone owner I'm jealous of Android users here: Apple Wallet in the UK still feels very much like a work in progress, so while my Calendar app can detect gig bookings and events in my email – something Gmail also does for the Google Calendar app – I still have to add the passes manually. That's assuming they're there at all, and that I'm looking at the email on my iPhone rather than on my Mac.

That's a first world problem I know, but having consistent, reliable, widespread auto-detection of important things in messages and mail is a feature that genuinely makes life easier – and if you're scatterbrained like I am, that helps keep you organised. So it's very much the sort of thing I really hope the big tech firms' investments in AI and machine learning will improve, because I think that it's the everyday stuff that really makes a difference to how useful your devices can be: I've no interest in talking to a chatbot to pass the time but I'm very interested in anything that'll handle a bit more of my life admin, and that I can rely on my phone or smartwatch to sort out for me.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (