Developing a smartcard reader in Android

I have integrated USB peripherals in a customized Gingerbread distribution for my custom platform. The only reason why you would customize the Android platform would be to add or modify some drivers that will give you access to your USB device. If your USB device already uses a protocol that is supported by standard Android devices, just enjoy your luck! Your pretty much all set. But before celebrating your victory, I would try it on a variety of devices. At the Android and Kernel level, Google provides a very barebone distribution with a lot of driver source code. It's up to the phone/tablet manufacturer to decide which low level drivers and protocol they will include according to the hardware that their device is using. Since the amount of memory is limited on a phone/tablet, the general rule is to include just what is needed. On a PC-Linux architecture, you don't have the problem since the harddisk space is so large that you include all the drivers that exist and you let the system pick and choose what it needs according to what it discovers.

Hope this simple answer will be helpful.

I'm not sure about the CCID implementation for the reader, but for android there are some C/C++ ports, not sure if they work though. On the android part is pretty easy to implement the CCID protocol take a look at this. The hardest part is to make your firmware for the reader, there are a lot of small details you need to take care of.

After doing some more research in this field, there are several solutions available to you:

  1. Make your custom drivers (simple communication, some simple commands to reset the card and power it). In this case you will just have to implement reset/power commands and the T=1 communication protocol, however the big downside to this method is that it will work only with your card readers witch is a big limitation.
  2. Implement CCID interface on the controller and wrap it around APDU commands. This method is scalable and as long as you abide by the specification (a lot of manufacturers don't and this is why the pcsc-lite has the list of supported readers). This method is the most cost efficient if you want to sell a lot of readers. You can find the specification here
  3. Add a CCID chip to your assembly that has already CCID communication implemented. Such chips are manufactured by multiple vendors, STMelectronics has a lot of them, however in such case your final reader will cost more and you will not have full control over the protocol.

As for the Android side, seek offers a port of the pcsc-lite driver, didn't try it but from the source code I can tell that they only modified the usb api from the original driver and used a JNI interface to communicate with the c code.