A few weeks back, to much fanfare, Apple released a new version of their popular iPhone and an updated version of iOS, the operating system that powers the device. Dubbed iOS 6, the latest edition of the software as been a bit of a mixed bag for most iPhone users, who now enjoy improved social networking integration, better messaging and a smarter Siri, but have been cursed with Apple’s new sub-par maps app.
Lost in the hype of the shiny new device and the kerfuffle that has been the maps fiasco, was the inclusion of a new app called Passbook. The app promises to be an electronic wallet for all of your digital coupons, membership and gift cards, movie tickets and boarding passes. Passbook collects those items from other apps, emails or direct download through the Safari browser and conveniently keeps them all well organized in a single place. When it comes time to use one of your coupons or tickets, you simply have the cashier scan a bar code on the screen of your phone and you’re on your way.
That’s not all Passbook can do, however, as it is also time and location aware. That means that it will automatically display relevant passes on your phone’s lock screen based on where you are. So if you walk into a Starbucks it will automatically display any active gift cards and as you arrive at the airport, the app is already placing the relevant boarding pass on your screen. It will even alert you of any changes to your flight time or departure gate, helping to ensure you don’t miss it.Digital boarding passes are not really all that new or innovative, as a number of airlines have been using them for a few years now. But Passbook makes it a breeze to collect and keep track of those passes and its inclusion as a pre-installed app on all iPhones means that more people will start using it on a regular basis. We all know that once a technology gains more mass market appeal, more companies will support it, which means Apple’s Passbook will probably be a gateway to better paperless options when traveling in the future.
The app is already supported by United and American Airlines, and we’re told that Delta will jump on the bandwagon soon too. But airlines aren’t the only ones that are quickly adding support for the new system. Major League Baseball now offers Passbook-based tickets for games and online movie ticketing service Fandango sends its passes to the app as well. The best part is, most businesses are already equipped to scan Passbook entries, which isn’t the case with similar services on other phones that employ Near-Field Communications technology for their approach to the digital wallet.
As technology evolves, there may soon come a day when you won’t need to leave home with anything other than your smartphone. That day probably isn’t as far off as we think either.