Microsoft recently published some news about Windows Phone being used in a line-of-business app for Delta Airlines. That’s great news for the platform, and I’d like to say congrats to the team that delivered it. However (isn’t there always a however?), it brings up some questions. The card reader peripheral is not complicated – it’s just using he mic input as a sort of old-school modem.
The big questions are around device lock-down. Generally speaking in an LOB app, you don’t want users messing around with, or even offered the ability to get to applications other than your own. The way Windows Phone works, at least for consumers, is that you can’t lock down the device. So this means that the flight attendants can use the device to play games. They could install other apps (that could also read the card data from the reader – hello security problem?). They could uninstall the LOB app itself. The industrious may even be able to swap out the existing app with one that looks the same but sends the card data somewhere else. How is the device protected against these types of scenarios?
So yes, this is cool, but I’d really like to more about how they technically solved some of these concerns, if they did at all.
For those interested, the card reader is from Anywhere Commerce. They do have off-the-shelf hardware that they say has a Windows Phone SDK. I’ve not used it, so I can’t say anything about it, but if you’re in the market for a magstripe reader for Windows Phone, they’re probably worth a look.