App Industry Roundup: Square's mobile payment service ready for iPhone and Android

by Eric Benderoff

Do you have a problem with friends who don't pay up on their bets? Get the Square app for your phone and your buddies won't have a choice. Also in today's App Industry Roundup: Motorola has square ideas of its own while Engadget confirms that AT&T sells the iPhone.

Square deal

The promise of mobile payments takes a big leap forward today, as the much-discussed Square app is now available for the iPhone and Android phones. Square requires a hardware component -- a postage-stamp sized credit card reader that plugs into a phone's audio jack -- that the company is shipping for free.

Basically, anyone with Square attached to their phone can act as a retailer and accept credit card payments. Individuals and small businesses can use it as well, which means there's no excuses when your friends try to welch on their bets. Here's a helpful video that shows how Square works.

According to Fast Company, Square has been undergoing extensive testing. It has been used to raise funds for a New York politician, indie rockers Spoon use Square to sell merchandise while on tour, and the Tipping Point charity uses an iPad version to solicit donations.

"With Square the goal is to get people in immediately, and make the transaction as smooth and simple as possible," Jack Dorsey, the brains behind Square and the co-founder and chairman of Twitter, told Fast Company.

News flash: AT&T to sell the iPhone!

Has there ever been more interest in a contract than AT&T's iPhone deal with Apple? Sheesh, this "mysterious" document has gotten so much attention that you would think it featured Thomas Jefferson's and John Hancock's signature on the bottom.

The USA Today reported in 2007 that Apple and AT&T entered an exclusive 5-year deal to sell iPhones. Today, Engadget confirmed that, yes, we knew this. So why do we care? Well, the question of the contract continues to come up because consumers want a choice of wireless carriers. AT&T has come under criticism in some major markets -- notably New York and San Francisco -- because the network connection can be exceedingly slow and unreliable. The hope is that other carriers, such as Verizon, will soon get the iPhone.

Will they? Well, Engadget provides no answers. It just explains that a contract exists, thanks to a court battle over the exclusive contract that is happening in California. Basically, there's nothing new to see here folks. Let the speculation of Verizon offering the iPhone resume.

Gear: Flip out over new Moto phone

I loved the LG Lotus when it was released more than a year ago at Sprint. The cute, square-shaped phone brought a fresh design sense to a relatively dull field of standard mobile phones. Now, Motorola is using a very similar design -- hey, remember when everyone copied the Razr? -- and bringing it to an Android phone that is expected to be available this summer.

Called the Flipout, the phone will run on the Android 2.1 platform and include the social-networking Motoblur software package. The square, touch-screen cover sits above a qwerty keyboard. The cover slides open to expose the keyboard. Pricing and carrier terms have not been released, but the phone appears to come in at least three colors -- black, green and pink -- so expect the carrier and Motorola to give the phone a more feminine marketing push.