updated 11:35 am EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Square refreshes card reader with thinner design
Square on Moday revealed a new generation of its mobile credit card reader, one with a thinner design and more accurate functionality. The new reader heads to shelves as Square expands to Japan and generally pushes to expand its share in the mobile payment processing arena. Aside from the thinner form factor and improved functionality, the new design also features some tweaks to make it play better with assorted types of electronics.
The new design is 45 percent thinner than its predecessor. Promotional pictures from Square show that the reader is about as thin as an iPhone 5s, meaning it will no longer bulge over the sides of assorted devices. Square has also tweaked the device's audio plug so that it works better with more products.
In order to achieve the new design, Square had to custom-design many of the reader's components. The magnetic read head and spring are meant to ensure improved accuracy in reads, likely meaning that users won't have to do the multiple card swipes that are sometimes necessary in order to register a swipe. The reader's electronic components were also custom made on a single chip, meaning that the reader now relies only on the plugged-in device for power and does not have to have a contained battery.
The obsession with details in form and design spring largely from a team lead by former Apple engineer and current Square VP of Hardware Jesse Dorogusker, who was one of the lead engineers behind the Lightning connector during his eight years at Apple. Among other changes to make the Square reader smaller and better at reading cards, Dorogusker and others re-engineered the reader to draw power directly from the smartphone rather than relying on a cell battery.
The new reader will be available in roughly 30,000 retail stores nationwide, beginning early next year. Square also allows businesses to get a free unit through their website.