Yesterday Apple released the much anticipated iOS 6 update. Major iOS updates typically precede the release of new iOS hardware. The iPhone 5 will be available this Friday and Apple usually wants to get the iOS update in the hands of existing users a couple of days earlier. They learned this lesson from a few years back when they released a new iPhone, new iOS update and MobileMe all on the same day. This trifecta crashed servers and caused long frustrating lines at retailers.
Passbook has promise, but could be better
Passbook is one of the cool new flashy features of iOS 6 that can hold your store discount cards, tickets, boarding passes, gift cards, etc. However, unlike my favorite app for doing this kinda stuff “CardStar“, you have to wait for the individual Apps to catch up. With CardStar you can add the cards in your want by either manually entering the barcodes or by scanning them in the App. However, with Passbook these tickets and cards are passed to the App from their native Apps or from your desktop Mac. It has only been a day since Passbook has been made publicly available and therefore there are only a few Apps that take advantage of it. Even the Apps that Apple showcased (namely Delta, Starbucks and even Apple’s own Apple Store App) have not been updated yet. This might seem kinda repetitive for those of you that were thinking Passbook was going to be your one stop shop like CardStar is. Unfortunately to add something to Passbook you will need the native App for that provider first. For example, with Walgreens you need their App on your iPhone first in order to add their Rewards card to Passbook. Now it seems that you can delete the native App after you’ve added the card to Passbook, but you’re probably going to want to keep the native App for future maintenance. To date I only have two Apps that allowed me to put something in Passbook. Actually I have five if you include United, American Airlines and Fandango, but I don’t have any upcoming flights on United and AA and I don’t have a Passbook compatible theater nearby for Fandango that I’m aware of (Fandango, a list would be nice!). The two that I have working are Target and Walgreens. With Target I was able to send their mobile coupons over to Passbook and with Walgreens I was able to send over their Rewards card. Seems like a lot of work to setup, but it does work. The benefit of these extra steps is that Passbook is very location aware and can display the pass automatically when you’re say near your Walgreens or Airport. This isn’t always implemented well either. I have two Walgreens that are about the same distance from me. However, the Walgreens App only lets you send over one location to Passbook at a time. So if I’m near the one Walgreens the Rewards card will pop up, but if not I’ll have to bring it up manually. Not a big deal, but it would be nice for it to recognize any Walgreens that I walk into or at least a few of them in my area (perhaps 5 favorites).
The Bottom Line
Although Passbook may not be what you thought it was, it’s not a bad solution. As time goes on and all of our favorite Apps support it, it will only get better. I’m also expecting Apple to tweak it as needed too.