Third-party Starbucks app Buckstar drops reward card support amid security changes


In the on-going saga of missing official apps on Windows Phone, it is often the case that third-party companies step in to fill the void. Case in point is Buckstar, who was one of the last remaining apps to let users log into their Starbucks account to manage their rewards card. Now, that feature is being dropped due to some security changes by Starbucks.

The developer of the app, Eyer Technologies, took to Twitter way back in May noting that Buckstar will be retiring soon.

"Buckstar to be retired soon with the Coffee Company turning on snooping. aka Device fingerprint, causing problems for the app. No easy fix."

Evidently, that retiring is going into effect now as a user on Reddit notes how they can no longer log into their account.

The developer behind Buckstar has claimed they are exploring "alternate options" but there are no guarantees that they will be successful.

Lance McCarthy, who makes a similar app called Starbucks Locator has explained the issue in the past. Starbucks is evidently very protective of their user data – as they should – and previously have had apps pulled that authenticate against their API without their consent.

The problem comes down to credit cards being available for users to add money to their rewards card and letting third-parties have access to that could be risky. Because of the potential app revocation, Starbucks Locator did not offer the login process. Now, Buckstar is suffering the same fate due to even more security changes.

Limits of Starbucks apps

Like any other rewards card, users can still generate a barcode to be scanned at Starbucks to redeem points or their balance. Even the Microsoft Band does this by generating a simple code through the Microsoft Health companion app. However, to our knowledge, what is on the Band is all Microsoft's initiative, and it has nothing to do with Starbucks giving consent or cooperating.

However, the limits come to logging in and adding a balance or managing payment methods, which is where the security loopholes crop up.

Market share is still king

The problem for Starbucks is the same for other companies: Windows Phone market share is just not there in the US for them to justify an app. There is an official Starbucks app for Mexico and Russia. However, that is due to the company being managed by outside parties and making their marketing decisions independent of the US firm.

Will Windows 10 change things? It is much too early to say if Microsoft's Universal App Platform will sweeten the deal for Starbucks – and others – to make an app for tablets and phones. For now, there are no reports of such an app in the works and users should dampen their expectations until later in the year.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.