Skip to main content

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

Starbucks
Starbucks

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
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

59 Comments
  • Ohhh man just come out already. Starbucks people we need a real 1st party app. Don't be snapchat be a star. That's what you are.
  • The funny thing is that the first party app was just recently hacked. So much for them caring about security.
  • I recently emailed them about it. They responded by saying they have no plans to support windows environment.
  • I'm not going to spend another dime there until they make an app. They are too lazy and cheap to care about their customers.
  • You can only do what you can do I suppose.  But again and as I've been saying, the closer we get to launch, the more bullS--- we are bound to read.
  • That's true. Why would developers continue to make or update apps for a OS that's on its way out in a few months anyway. We should expect this kinda of stuff.
  • I rest my case.
  • Super easy fix for me. I logged into Starbucks website on my WP and pinned the webpage directly leading to my card to be scanned... Always works. Never fails... I used it maybe once a week or so. I agree it would be nice to have official app but the site works beautifully.
  • Hey, good point Vadim. 
  • Stopped working today
  • Yes, I use this too and it works fine. I don't find a need for an app.
  • That does indeed work.  Thanks vadim!!!
  • Is drinking a coffee or a milky drink so much controlled by an app in US? Sorry if I may sound stupid but I don't know much about the American culture or Starbucks
  • If you visit often, you get discounts and free drinks after you make a certain amount of purchases. There are discounts available only to users of the apps, and sometimes if you add money to your balance, they will chip in $5 or some other amount.
  • Its where people go when they want to pretend they're cool so its a big deal to them..... :)
  • Question Asked: Is drinking a coffee or a milky drink so much controlled by an app in US? Question Answered: Sorry if I may sound stupid but I don't know much about the American culture or Starbucks.
  • I am a big Starbucks customer and this pettiness has always made me look at the company in a negative light. App developers make the app that Starbucks refuses to build "due to limited market share", yet when one becomes a functioning app that we like the pull the rug out from under them. Whether it is their intent or not the perception out there is that they have it in for Windows phone users. Now, with the excuse that limited market share is all but eliminated with the idea of Windows 10 and a truly universal app it is my expectation that they'll finally build a proper one. If they build a universal windows 10 app they could allow a customer to reload their card through their PC via Cortana without even ever opening the app or simply ask Cortana to add $25 to my Starbucks card. In addition as a universal app it could give notifications when you receive a free drink or they announce a special, Cortana could add to your calendar when a free drink is going to expire so you don't lose it. The app would even work on Xbox. Like Nadella said last week, it's not about the form factor of the device, it's about how to take full advantage of the platform to delight your customers. C'mon Starbucks, be a leader not a sheep.
  • Like I always say, support the business that supports the platform. They only know money, don't give them any.
  • Hi Tyler, did you share this on the Starbucks site. Keep making noise. It can only help us get the app one day. Also, let's keep supporting Buckstar so they can figure out a way to develop another winning 3rd party app.    
  • Argh. Now I know why I had such a problem this morning trying to pay for my latte. Good thing I had cash. But I missed out on a star. Come on, Starbucks, you're based in Seattle--give us an official Windows app.
  • Sadly, I can no longer sign in on their website today as well on wp
  • Neither star bucks nor Cafe Coffee day.... I hate that smell.... 250ml milk + Jaggery = true taste
  • The SAD thing is that Starbucks has an Official App for Windows phones in Mexico and Russia. It's not like they can't afford it! 
  • Just installed this a couple of weeks ago.. disappeared in my APp list and can only be run by the store on win10m. Also doesnt allow to pin a card to the start screen :( Had sbucks card before this but this is unpublished
  • You can (or could) add a card to your wallet in Buckstar and then pin that to Start. Works even if you remove the app after that, though it doesn't update your balance without the app.
  • Yeah, I don't do Starbucks. I don't care much for the burned bean taste. I like what I brew at home. Yeah, I know some people go there for socializing, but I've got 2 beautiful blondes and a gorgeous brunette to keep me company when I have a cup at home. What more could I ask?
  • To have a coffee where those 3 girls are not :P
  • Lol. Nice!
  • Sweetest comment ever.
  • "will sweeten the deal"
    Ha.ha.
  • "Dear potential customers, F right off. Yours truly, Starbucks."
  • Eloquence at it's finest.
  • What good will a universal app do? In other words what would be the use of a desktop app in this case?
  • I am a big Starbucks customer and this pettiness has always made me look at the company in a negative light. App developers make the app that Starbucks refuses to build "due to limited market share", yet when one becomes a functioning app that we like the pull the rug out from under them. Whether it is their intent or not the perception out there is that they have it in for Windows phone users. Now, with the excuse that limited market share is all but eliminated with the idea of Windows 10 and a truly universal app it is my expectation that they'll finally build a proper one. If they build a universal windows 10 app they could allow a customer to reload their card through their PC via Cortana without even ever opening the app or simply ask Cortana to add $25 to my Starbucks card. In addition as a universal app it could give notifications when you receive a free drink or they announce a special, Cortana could add to your calendar when a free drink is going to expire so you don't lose it. The app would even work on Xbox. Like Nadella said last week, it's not about the form factor of the device, it's about how to take full advantage of the platform to delight your customers. C'mon Starbucks, be a leader not a sheep.
  • People still bring tablets to Starbucks so they can write and drink coffee all day, right? There you go
  • People carry around iPads. People carry around tablets. People carry around laptops. What's the difference to you if a Starbucks barcode appears on a phone screen or something larger? It will still scan at the register all the same.
  • Instead of complaining in this thread I just dropped a quick note to starbucks asking for a Windows app.  I wonder what would happen if everyone did that?  I know... probably nothing but I know for sure it cant hurt to be a bit more vocal. 
  • It's been in their "ideas" queue for years. Loads of people have requested it. Don't think it isn't because no one dropped them a quick note.
  • Why don't they just buy the app from one of the developers. Maybe things will change with 10 but I am pessimistic.
  • I love Starbucks, but this nonsense sucks! It has to stop! G-damn it Starbucks get your shiz together! You make far more than enough profit to justify a damn app for the millions of Windows phone users in the U.S. Stop nit picking and give the people what they want. If you didn't know, that's you! In your best interest, right?
  • Forgetting about the lack of an app for a second, this line from the column has to be erroneous: "[What] is on the Band is all Microsoft's initiative, and it has nothing to do with Starbucks giving consent or cooperating." It uses the Starbucks name and logo, and I'm pretty sure there's no way Starbucks would allow that without permission. It's one thing for Joe Tinypersonaldeveloper to try and do that and sneak under Starbucks' radar; it's an entirely different thing when Microsoft does it.
  • Looks like the same fate has come to MyBucks which is what I use.
  • Aren't Microsoft and Starbucks basically neighbors in WA?  That's a lot of people to be abandoning in your home town by not supporting Windows Phone. 
  • It would cost virtually nothing for a giant company like Starbucks to build an official Windows app. They could hire one person to do it, and every person that downloads the app would spend money at their store! I really don't understand the issue.
  • I don't think they can hide behind the "market share" excuse for not making an app.  They already have an app for the Apple Watch.  I'm sure there are more Windows Phone users than Apple watch users out there.  Make the app already. 
  • I doubt it... The Apple users have been programmed for years to buy what the make when they make it. MS doesn't do that. I'll have to research user base for the watch... Now I'm curious.
  • Lumia sales is nearly 10 Million per quarter, Apple watch sales is much lower than that at around 3 million.
  • That Lumia number is global, and the US is only a tiny percentage of that number. The 3 million in Apple watches was US only and less than 1 quarter (to be fair it was the launch quarter). Add to that the Starbucks app is very popular on the iPhone and the phone app is what powers the watch. Heck, Starbucks even accepts Apple Pay for reloading your Starbucks card.
  • But Apple Watch sales have reportedly plummeted 90+% since launch.
  • Their CEO, COO and CTO all have iPhones and Apple Watches. So do their entire board of directors*. All their business partners have Apple stuff. They would develop an Apple Watch app just to make the CEO happy. * Don't know that literally but I'd bet money they use Apple far more than Android and none use Windows Phone.  
  • I still find it funny that the Microsoft Band has a bare-bones Starbucks app and the initial bands included a $5 Starbucks card. Yet they don't support WP. Nice guys. Nice.
  • Typical... a really good App this one, makes me mad the money I spend on MS goods and Starbucks Coffee in store and Beans online :(
  • My wife just got me a nice coffee machine that grinds the beans for each cup for my birthday. Excellent timing, since I have no need for a Starbucks app anymore. BTW, they just raised prices again too.
  • You can use webapp app  to make starbucks app it works for me for now. can get wp store
  • ...so what's the point of having it on your phone? Then again, why can't Starbucks develop their own Windows app?
  • Yeah, I don't see this kind of thing changing with Windows 10.  Why would it?  What's the use case scenario for Starbucks making an app for desktops or laptops, when you have access to a browser? And of course, you need an app for smartphones, because like Nilay's article on The Verge editorialized: the mobile web experience largely sucks.
  • The app my bucks is still working
  • Can't find 'my bucks' in the store. =(
  • Man this pisses me off so bad I can't see straight. I would love to go personally beat the shit out of Howard Schultz.