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  • Twitter Co-Founder Brings "Square" To The iPhone


    The Register is out this morning with an interesting read on the new offering from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Dorsey, it turns out, is behind a new mag-stripe reader for the iPhone.

    Coming only days after the other Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said 2010 will finally be the year that Twitter proves profitable, hopefully Dorsey isn't moonlighting as a hardware developer to make ends meet until Twitter actually turns a profit

    Dorsey's "Square" service comprises a magnetic strip reader balanced precariously on the bottom of an iPod Touch, or iPhone, along with an application which processes the transaction and e-mails a receipt. It's no wonder that VC's have already handed over $10m in cash and can't wait to give him more.
    For now, here's what we know about the mag-stripe reader. It connects through the audio jack and draws power from the swipe. And as far as your signature is concerned, a good old-fashioned finger-traced outline of your John Hancock will do the trick. The "Square" also provides the customer with a confirmation email of the transaction if - and only if - they first input their e-mail address.

    Those who choose to register with the service can also upload a photograph which is displayed on the iPhone's screen, but photographs on cards have been tried before with limited success. A particularly famous UK trial culminated with one trialist replacing their photograph with that of a gorilla, without raising an eyebrow when it was used.
    A lot of people may choose to give this new offering the finger... literally. Closely resembling other credit-card processing apps out there, the "Square" is somewhat different and arguably "more professional" because of the tiny hunk of plastic that lends the feel of hardware to the transaction process. Will it work? Will it prove successful? Will we even care a month from now?

    Those questions and more remain to be answered. But it's a good sign that one of the creative minds behind Twitter is looking to the iPhone as a creative outlet for new software or hardware ideas that could ultimately trickle down to consumers in a widespread fashion.

    Then again, so is everyone else.

    Image via The Register
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Twitter Co-Founder Brings "Square" To The iPhone started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      Seems like this app may have potential. But i'd like to see more photos of how this looks when it's connected to the iPhone. The picture in this article, has the guy's hand blocking part of the phone so you can't really see it. I thought this piece would connect through the charging port of the phone not audio?
    1. gazapo's Avatar
      gazapo -
      Looks like it's connected to the audio port on a touch? Pretty cool idea, but not sure if it will be a big hit - maybe in apple stores where the people walk around with their phones out typing your name into them for appointments - god that's annoying.
    1. SourAppleFan's Avatar
      SourAppleFan -
      from the looks of the picture the "Square" is at the bottom of the phone, which the headphone jack is not (at least on a 2G phone). The reason it would be in the headphone jack is because it works like a fax and is processed/transmitted like dialup/fax via audio waves. very interesting products, but just another piece of hardware to lose or break imho
    1. StealthBravo's Avatar
      StealthBravo -
      Nice until its built into the 4G
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SourAppleFan View Post
      from the looks of the picture the "Square" is at the bottom of the phone, which the headphone jack is not (at least on a 2G phone). The reason it would be in the headphone jack is because it works like a fax and is processed/transmitted like dialup/fax via audio waves. very interesting products, but just another piece of hardware to lose or break imho
      Ahhh thanks for the info I didn't know about that. I also didn't realize that the device is an iPod touch lol.
    1. Melech518's Avatar
      Melech518 -
      I got wind of the Square months ago but havent heard anything about release info nor do I notice it in the article. Really need this one.
    1. ukoda's Avatar
      ukoda -
      If I was them I would have used the Bluetooth interface. It looks very fragile as is and I worry about the wear on the connects for stuff that is used periodically. Bluetooth is ideal for things like this that only need low bandwidth and they could style it more and offer it for other phones too.
    1. confucious's Avatar
      confucious -
      Swipe a card? Signature?
      Do you guys still use those?
      I believe they are still used as a backup in the UK but the card companies don't guarantee payments using them. Without Chip'n'Pin it is useless in the UK.
    1. PaperCross's Avatar
      PaperCross -
      Quote Originally Posted by ukoda View Post
      If I was them I would have used the Bluetooth interface. It looks very fragile as is and I worry about the wear on the connects for stuff that is used periodically. Bluetooth is ideal for things like this that only need low bandwidth and they could style it more and offer it for other phones too.
      That would be cool. You could have the reader in your keychain and once paired with the iPhone, it just uses bluetooth to transfer the information read off the card. bluetooth's limited range would provide an added geographical security comapred to RF.

      I think that could a possible evolution of this kind of hardware.
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      I want one even though I don't have a credit card
    1. southfrisco's Avatar
      southfrisco -
      Quote Originally Posted by confucious View Post
      Swipe a card? Signature?
      Do you guys still use those?
      I believe they are still used as a backup in the UK but the card companies don't guarantee payments using them. Without Chip'n'Pin it is useless in the UK.
      Yeah, we still do this. I've read stories about American tourists in the UK handing over their credit cards to clerks and the clerks look at them strange like "What am I suppose to do with this?" We are so far behind advancements in the US compared to the rest of the world it is pathetic.
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by confucious View Post
      Swipe a card? Signature?
      Do you guys still use those?
      I believe they are still used as a backup in the UK but the card companies don't guarantee payments using them. Without Chip'n'Pin it is useless in the UK.
      Yep, it's pin everywhere here. Europe is usually ahead of the USA in technology.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      seems bulky and archaic
    1. rwin84's Avatar
      rwin84 -
      Do ineed to remind anyone of the breathalyzer that someone built into/onto their iphone...
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      too bad this guy didn't actually invent anything at all.. geohot made one of these a long time ago.

      snore.
    1. n00neimp0rtant's Avatar
      n00neimp0rtant -
      It's really that hard to type 16 digits on a touch screen?