Square has launched the latest version of its mobile card reader, which it said performs better, is more accurate and uses less power than previous versions. The new Square Reader is also thinner and includes a custom-built magnetic-card read-head and spring.

The read-head parses redundant data from credit cards to ensure successful swipes, the San Francisco-based company said.

The new Square Reader uses a purpose-built single chip instead of a set of off-the-shelf components, Square head of hardware Jesse Dorogusker told GigaOm. This means the Square Reader consumes less power and does not need a bulky battery. Instead it draws power from the mobile device audio plug to which it is connected.

The new Square Reader offers improved communications and is also compatible with more devices than older versions, Square said in a press release. The device is available now for free at square.com to anyone who signs up for a Square account. In the New Year, it will be available at the 30,000 stores across the U.S. that carry the Square Reader.

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