Today Square unveiled its new card reader with a design that’s nearly half the size of the original. By ditching clunky stock components in the first Square Reader, the mobile payments pioneer has created a smoother card swiping experience and sleeker, tapered design the second time around.
How did Square achieve such drastically improved hardware in only one revision? Apple’s former head of accessories, who led the development of the Lightning connector, was in charge.
After working for eight years as the head of Apple’s accessories division, Jesse Dorogusker left in 2011 to join Square as VP of Hardware. It was under Dorogusker’s guidance that Apple released Lightning, arguably the most advanced I/O connector on the market. Wired has a great article on how Dorogusker designed Square’s new reader. His team created custom parts to achieve the design he wanted, including a proprietary chip to process swipes.
The device may be spartan in its aesthetic, but it isn’t without its cosmetic improvements. It’s 45% thinner than the old one, but, as mentioned earlier, its footprint is a bit wider. The card slot is more central to the device, instead of sitting just behind the front face, so that it’s more intuitive to locate the slot without looking. The unit lost its bulky “shoulders,” as Dorogusker puts it. And where the older Reader was quite obviously two pieces, a front and back, snapped together, the new one looks like one solid, unbroken piece of plastic. Only the closest inspection reveals the seam where the two pieces meet.
Sounds a lot like the attention to detail at Apple.
The new Square Reader will be available for purchase from retailers, including the Apple Store, early next year. You can order one online for free now. Square takes a 2.75% flat cut off all transactions in exchange for offering the service for free.