Experts at the Intrepidus Mobile Security Group came across some interesting parsers definitions within Google Wallet’s source code that could hint at a possible iOS release. How Google actually plans on getting Google Wallet to work on a non-NFC/SE iOS device is another story, but for now, let’s take a look at the iOS definitions found by Intrepidus.
The first hints came within the “WalletShared” protocol buffers package which contained “IOS” values within the defining “DeviceContext -> HardwareType” field (you can see those in the image above). Later they found other hints within two additional protocol buffers called “IosDevice” and “IosWallet.” While the details were scarce, they call for information such as “appId”, “appVersion”, “walletUuid”, and a few “model” and “version” items.
While iOS applications are written in Objective C and Android in Java, Intrepidus does a good job of explaining why we’re seeing these iOS definitions within the Android app:
A developer typically creates a “.proto” file, which is a programming language independent file which defines the data structure. This “.proto” file is then compiled using the “protoc” application and creates the appropriate files for the language you are programming in. Thus, it’s simple to use the same “.proto” file to create a Java object or an Objective C object if they are both going to use the same data structure. While Objective C is not in the official protocol buffers package, there is an add-on for that language available. Thus it is quite likely if there was a “shared” data structure which both clients and the server would need to parse, the same “.proto” file would be used regardless of the application’s programming language.
I’m extremely happy to see Google committed to bringing their contactless payment system to as many devices as possible, but I have serious doubts of how they will accomplish this with iOS devices. It’s possible they have inside information about the iPhone 5 having NFC but even if that were true, I find it hard to believe Apple would allow Google Wallet to be the premier contactless payment option. Then there’s the fact that the majority of carriers have already made it obvious that they are against fair competition and have blocked Google Wallet from having a chance against their joint Isis venture.
It’s also plausible to think that they’re simply betting on some sort of consumer NFC sticker to make all this possible via a web app but there’s still the issue of security and whether or not such a method would open the doors for criminals to easily steal your information. Regardless of the “what ifs,” the source code surely hints at the possibility so we’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you guys think, will we see Google Wallet on iOS? Do you think the iPhone 5 will support this out-of-the-box or do you see this as a third party workaround? Google needs something because as it stands, they’re stacked against some pretty big cards. I, for one, am riding the Google Wallet train, how about you?
- Source Intrepidus Group