At WWDC12 last week -- alongside the iOS 6 Developer Preview -- Apple debuted a new app called Passbook that has the potential to disrupt mobile payments ("m-commerce") and to turn the iPhone into the digital wallet of the future.
Here's the description of Passbook from Apple's iOS 6 preview page:
Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place — like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon. And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal.
When I first launched the Passbook beta I was underwhelmed because it didn't do anything besides display a splash screen. As it turns out, the app requires retailers and vendors to release passbook compatible files (called "passes") to enable the app's functionality.
Some enterprising developers created a website called PassSource that allows users to create test passes for the Passbook app today. Here's how.
- Point your iOS 6 device's Safari browser to passsource.com
- Tap on Individual Passes
- Here you'll see different types of test pass options. Select one of the them.
- You will now see several fields that can be edited. Leave everything as default and tap on the Create button at the bottom.
- Once the pass is created, you will see the preview of the pass. Tap on the Add button at the top right corner to add the pass to the Passbook app.
- Launch the Passbook app and you should see the test pass in the app. You can tap on the Settings option in the bottom right corner to set Notifications when there are updates to the pass or to show up in the lock screen based on time or location.
Smart retail establishments and businesses would be well served by getting ahead of the curve on Passbook by creating their passes now. Once created, passes can be distributed by email or by posting them on a website and vendors can set them to appear at certain times or locations and update items with push notifications.