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

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.

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?