How to get started with iOS 6's most underrated new app: Passbook

How to get started with iOS 6's most underrated new app: Passbook

Summary: While it's not NFC, Passbook for iOS is pretty darned compelling. And if the Passbook launch apps don't convince you, Starbucks will have Passbook support in less than four days.

TOPICS: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone
iOS 6 Passbook apps - Jason O'Grady

While it doesn't ship with Near Field Communication (NFC) hardware, the iPhone 5 didn't entirely skip the mobile commerce revolution either.

iOS 6 includes Passbook, Apple's new app which allows you to store boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more on your iPhone. The cool part is that Passbook passes appear on your iPhone Lock screen and they're geo-fenced, which means that your Starbucks cards automatically appears when you step into a Starbucks.

There aren't a lot of apps that support Passbook presently, but Apple launched with an impressive list of partners, including:

  • American Airlines
  • Fandango 
  • Live Nation
  • Lufthansa
  • At Bat
  • At the BallPark
  • Sephora to Go
  • Target
  • Ticketmaster
  • United Airlines
  • Walgreens

Coffee junkies will appreciate the fact that the Starbucks iOS app will include Passbook support by Sunday, according to the company's official Twitter account:

Venture Beat noted that AmEx launched a Passbook integration but not in the way you'd think. You can't pay with AmEx using Passbook. It can only be used for viewing details on recent transactions as they happen.

Gap jumped into the fray with special offers for Passbook users who got free swag by showing a Passbook code to a store associate. Unfortunatley it was only at locations in Ginza, Harajyuku and Shibuya Japan.

One of the most interesting implementations of Passbook at this early stage of the game is via the Target app. It now allows iOS 6 users to send, store, and access Target Mobile Coupons in Passbook. MacStories has posted a great tutorial on how to use Passbook Mobile Coupons at Target.

CNET's Jason Cipriani notes that you can add almost any gift card to Passbook via the Gyft app right now. You'll need to add the gift card to Gyft, view details for it, then tap on the Add to Passbook button. Kind of a kludge, but it works. 

If you want to experiment more, you can create your own passes at PassSource, Passdock,, Passhop, and PassWallet (for Android). Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) can use the PassRocket app to create their own passes for their customers.

If you're a consumer and want more retailers to embrace Passbook, do what I do: ask them nicely on Twitter using the hashtag #passbook.

To keep up with companies that support it, click on the App Store button at the bottom of the Passbook app, or use this handy link to view Passbook-capable apps in iTunes. AppShopper is also keeping track of Passbook-enabled apps as they get released. 

Do you use Passbook? What retailer might convince you?

Topics: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone

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  • Umm

    And if somebody steals the iPad or iPhone?
    • Illogical Panic

      Huh? Why dont you have a password?

      Personal and Budiness contacts
      Private Emails
      1Password type Apps
      Most tools required for password recovery
      Amazon, Paypal, EBay info
      Home address
      Photos of you and your kids
      $700 iPhone

      If someone steals your non-password protected phone then access to your target coupons is the least of your worries.
    • No One is Safe

      Same thing if someone steals your wallet or house keys. Everything comes with risk.
      Jafu Bumbalini
    • Safer than my wallet.

      Safer than my wallet.

      iPhone is locked with a password and will wipe itself if you try to monkey with it.

      My wallet, on the other hand, can't do that.
      • How often...

        How often do you lay your wallet on the table in a restaurant?

        Apples and oranges.
        • Never

          Nor do I lay my phone on the table at a restaurant or anywhere I am eating. Very poor manners.
        • Exactly the same number of times I lay my iPhone on the table . . .

          Exactly the same number of times I lay my iPhone on the table at a restaurant.
    • Passbook

      You ca see list of services offering Passbook on & also create your own passbook at
  • "While it's not NFC, it's still pretty compelling"

    It is not "still" -- passbook will be very successful, while NFC is useless for more than a year already.
    • Another walled garden non standard iCrapware

      Apple should have used NFC, but since they didn't include it on their new iphone they had to have something to try and take it's place or else people would have one more reason not to buy it. Now iFans can say they don't have NFC, but they have passbook and it's even better.

      Since this is not an open standard, it won't go anywhere beyond the die hard iFan users. You know, the ones that stand in line for a new iDevice even though they don't have to.
      • Are you living in a dreamland? Cars have Apple's proprietary ports built-in

        ... and not any other open standard ones. The same happens with NFC versus Passbook: no one wants NFC, and Passbook will be blockbuster.
        • Whatever iTard

          NFC is a standard being used and developed today, the apps on top of it are what will provide value since the communication standard is developed and supported by may large companies.

          Keep sticking your head in the sand, but Apple's Passbook is nothing more than an app that holds data. Tell me Mr. paid shill, how is that information passed from the passbook to another entity?

          NFC and apps/services on top of them are the future, not some half baked Apple proprietary crap.
          • Passbook rocks

            "Tell me Mr. paid shill, how is that information passed from the passbook to another entity? "

            Using a barcode reader, already installed on most premises... No need for a merchant to spend money. This is the big advantage of Passbook...
  • Just because you don't have it!

    To describe NFC as useless exposes your lack of knowledge. I have used it for purchases and exchanging information, pictures and contacts with other NFC-enabled devices. It has been quite useful to me.
  • Amex app not out yet

    It seems that the Amex report fails to note that the version of the app that includes passbook is not out yet.
  • None which are close to me . . .

    "There aren't a lot of apps that support Passbook presently, but Apple launched with an impressive list of partners, including:"

    Reading the list - Don't have any of those where I'm at.
    • Has anyone gotten it to work?

      Just did a trip - United Airlines - no work. However, strangely, the one in my email did.
      Target in my area, not yet. But, NFC on my Nexus does.

      Haven't tried anything else yet...
      • Nope

        Didn't work for me on a recent United flight with iOS6 on an iPhone 4.
    • Same here...

      I looked at the list and only Lufthansa operates here and I fly maybe once every 2 or 3 years - and then mostly with Air Berlin...

      The Apple blurb says my favourite café... They still use paper and pencil to take the order and the waiters walk around with a wallet to take money and give out change...
      • The Cafe waitress

        You would prefer the waitress to talk to your iPhone and not you?

        Aren't these girls pretty in your country? :)