Square, the mobile payments service found in countless coffee shops across the country, may be working towards becoming less reliant on Apple's products, according to a report from The Information. Square has allegedly been working on an Android tablet of its own that would replace the iPad-powered Square Registers used by many small businesses. Square's plan would be to use the tablet to head off any complications that may arise should Apple decide to block compatibility with Square's Register and encourage the use of Apple Pay.
The Information says that the project is currently in the early stages and may not go through to production. Aside from the difficulties with designing new hardware, there's also the hurdle of getting Square's many customers to adopt it in lieu of what they already have.
In addition to Square's payments plans, The Information also says that Google has been working on a new mobile payments system that would let people pay at participating retailers by just confirming their name or initials to the cashier. Called "Plaso" (pronounced "play-so"), the system is allegedly being tested in a handful of retail outlets already. Google's system appears to be very familiar to Square's now discontinued Wallet, which let customers say their name at the register to pay for their goods. Square canceled Wallet almost a year ago, saying that it will incorporate some of its ideas in a future product.
Google and Square are scrambling to compete with Apple Pay
Both efforts are apparently in response to Apple Pay, the mobile payments program that Apple introduced with the iPhone 6 line this fall. Apple has boasted rapid adoption of Apple Pay, claiming that two out of three mobile payments transactions are made with its service, even though other options such as Google Wallet have been around for far longer.
Despite having been around for years and being very popular in Japan and other countries, mobile payments have yet to catch on with the mainstream in the US. Apple Pay has garnered the most attention and adoption, but it remains a niche service that still doesn't work in many of the places that people shop. Even with Square and Google's best efforts, neither service has caught on in big ways with consumers. (Though Square has had success powering transactions at small business, customers still use a traditional credit card and not their phones to use it.) Now that Apple is seeing the adoption rates that others have been craving, both companies appear to be scrambling the jets in response.