Apple is preparing to phase out its current portable credit-card machines in UK Apple Stores, in favour of using iPod touches loaded with a special application and hardware adaptor.
A trusted source within Apple tipped us off to the news. They said the current Windows CE-powered machines, which Apple Store employees carry around in the stores to quickly take payment, are old-fashioned and a total pest.
The new system, they explained, simply uses normal iPod touches. An app (presumably developed in-house and not for public use) will be pre-loaded, with a card-reading adaptor connected via the player's USB port. A link over Wi-Fi, we guess, then connects the system to Apple's back-end payment system.
Although a company's decision to use new hardware to process payments isn't traditionally news-worthy, this is rather different. It highlights how much more versatile the iPod is becoming, and follows news that VeriFone and Square, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's new company, are building their own iPhone and iPod touch credit-card readers for the retail sector.
Our source didn't specify dates for the roll-out of the iPod-based system in Apple's stores, but indicated it should be within the first half of this year. Keep your eyes peeled!