Shopify just released its new card reader that makes it easy for merchants to complete credit or debit card-based sales on the go. The reader accepts chip dips or swipes and works with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. It connects wirelessly to Android and Apple phones via Bluetooth and at full charge can carry out 400 chip dips and 700 swipe transactions.
Shopify’s reader is an alternative to the popular version sold by Square, which just introduced a prepaid debit card that lets users tap into their Square Cash while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. PayPal and Intuit also have mobile card readers, while Amazon’s short-lived version is no more. Shopify unveiled its new reader in April and began taking select pre-orders last month. Today, the reader is available to all Shopify merchants.
To use Shopify’s card reader, you’ll have to have nothing older than an iPhone 5 or iPad Gen 3 running iOS 9 or higher or an Android device running version 4.4 at minimum. It’s only available in the US and is being offered to new Shopify point-of-sale merchants for free. Everyone else can snag one for $ 29.
Square Cash’s virtual payment card might not be quite so virtual in the future. Company chief Jack Dorsey has teased a strange, all-black Visa debit card that Recode suspects is really a physical Square Cash card. A Square spokesperson declined to comment, so take this with a grain of salt, but there’s evidence to suggest there’s something to this teaser. You see, Square seriously considered a payment card back in 2014 — the company is no stranger to exploring the concept of a real-world card that draws from online funds.
There’s no guarantee that Square will launch a debit card, no matter what Dorsey is carrying in his pocket. The company reportedly ditched its payment card out of a reluctance to either antagonize its partners or wade through a tangled financial industry. However, there are a few incentives to at least consider the idea.
For one, Square has previously said it would like to “own both sides of the counter.” If it handles both the cards and the payment readers, it doesn’t have to give a cut to anyone else. There’s also the simple matter of catering to a wider customer base. While you can use Apple Pay to go shopping with Square Cash, not everyone can or wants to use an iPhone to make purchases at retail. This would let you use your virtual wallet anywhere that accepts debit cards, regardless of your phone preferences. And simply speaking, a physical card is more inviting to those people hesitant to shop with their handsets. Even if most Square Cash users aren’t about to use a tangible debit card, they might appreciate the option.
The Square Cash service added a “virtual debit card” feature back in September, and tonight during the Code Commerce event, CEO Jack Dorsey announced that it’s integrating with Apple Pay. The virtual Visa debit card lets Square Cash users spend their balance anywhere Visa is accepted (legitimately), and starting today, its iPhone app can enable the card for use on Apple Pay too. If you’re not using an iPhone or Apple Watch, Dorsey said that the company does have plans to support other platforms like Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
There aren’t enough dedicated apps for the Apple Watch, let alone role-playing games from established publishers like Square Enix. The name alone conjures images of classic RPGs: Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and Valkyrie Profile to name a few. That’s why Cosmos Rings, the company’s first Apple Watch-exclusive RPG, feels like such a departure from the norm. It’s vivid, gorgeous and inspired, but unfortunately it falls victim to the very same cliches of so many mobile games that came before it.
At first glance, Cosmos Rings looks quite promising, with a narrative that’s par for the course when it comes to JRPGs. As the God of Time, you’re tasked with wandering an endless expanse called the Rift in a bid to restore time to the way you once knew it. After being moved to stop time to grant the wishes of human beings, you’ve got to repent for causing the Goddess of Time to shatter into pieces. Her crystallized remains were scattered throughout the Rift, and it’s up to you to make things right. Lost love? Check. Protagonist taking it upon himself to make things right? Double check. Now all it needs is an amnesiac to fill the rest of its RPG trope quota.
The Rift acts as the stage on which Cosmos Rings plays out. Get used to the way it looks, because you’re going to be seeing a whole lot of it. After you launch the iPhone app and open up the companion version on your Apple Watch, you’re met with a bit of expository story coupled with artwork that’s meant to move you along. These quickly introduce additional characters whose presence don’t immediately make sense in the context of the God of Time’s story, but you’ll soon realize it won’t matter much when the game basically plays itself, barring a few player-controller machinations.
That’s right — Cosmos Rings is essentially an incremental game that requires little or no input from you. The game is perfect for the diminutive Apple Watch screen, and its neon pixel art absolutely sings on the small display. But in the end, it’s little better than playing Tap My Katamari or Cookie Clicker with a few added mechanics.
The God of Time continues to run headlong into the Rift, fighting off enemies as they appear before him. This is your default screen among the three the game’s comprised of. The God will automatically attack on his own, but if you so desire you can tap the Skills button at the lower right of the screen to utilize various attacks you’ll earn along the way. If you wait for the timer to count down and then fire off a Skill right after the first one, you can chain them for additional damage. You can also rotate the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown to head to the Fragments screen, where you can spend Fragments (displayed on-screen as you collect them in battle) to upgrade your weapons, unlock additional skill slots and most importantly, earn more time.
You’ll want to keep a close eye on the time you’re allotted, especially if you don’t want to keep playing the same “days” over and over. There’s a timer at the bottom left of the screen that continually counts down. Essentially, that’s your HP gauge. Let it run out, and you’re forced to start the game from the beginning, though you’ll retain any Skills or Relics acquired in the process.
It’s more akin to a roguelike in this respect than an RPG, and is one of the most challenging elements of Cosmos Rings. If you make a mistake or forget to use Fragments to level up or augment your equipment, you can also use the digital crown of your Apple Watch in the Rift to rewind time to a specific “hour,” as the game is split into during each day, to go back and do it all again. These light strategic elements add a little variety, but the game is otherwise so hands-off you’ll wonder why you’re even interacting with it.
Bizarrely, time doesn’t cease counting down unless you’re fighting a boss, when the ticker hits 3 minutes, or during a story event where you’re given a slice of story. So if you’re planning on not playing for a long stretch of time you’ll need to make sure you do keep an eye on the game when you want to make progress. It’s almost like toting around a Tamagotchi or a Giga Pet, except you can’t let your “pet” die.
Cosmos Rings is a strange amalgam of clicker mechanics, colorful pixelated graphics and a score that you’ll want to listen to more than once, but it’s also lacking in the RPG department. When compared to its competition, a fantasy adventure called Runeblade from Everywear Games, Cosmos Rings seems feature-deficient. The former utilizes several of the same mechanics Cosmos Rings does (namely time travel), but offers an offline mode, various quests, and other reasons to keep you coming back. It’s hard to recommend Square Enix’s offering over Runeblade, especially since Runeblade is free.
If you’re looking for something to idly tap on while on the way to work or need to use your Apple Watch for a use beyond regular apps, it’s an interesting experiment. If you’re hoping for anything more than an endless grind with little input required from you, you might want to take your 3DS or Vita with you along for the ride instead. Cosmos Rings is available now as an Apple Watch exclusive.