Is Anyone Really Using Passbook?

Passbook Icon

Smartphones can potentially replace lots of the scraps of paper we carry in our wallets. Apple's Passbook app could potentially reduce the amount of clutter we carry even more by holding information about loyalty programs, discount vouchers, boarding passes, event tickets and other bits and pieces. But has it worked?

My name is Anthony and I’m an iPhone user. While most of the apps on my iPhone get a decent workout, the one app that I feel that I should be using more is Passbook. In theory, it’s meant to be a place where lots of different information can be stored.

In truth, the only two things I’ve managed to get into Passbook successfully have been tickets to events from Eventbrite and boarding passes when travelling on some airlines. But the store loyalty cards I carry for local supermarkets are still bits of plastic in my wallet, my local coffee shops still use either cards or other apps, and cinemas still insist in issuing bits of paper.

What gives? Is it really that hard to create .pkpass files? Microsoft recently reverse engineered them, so clearly it thinks there's a market for the service.

Local blogger Beau Giles has compiled a list of services that use Passbook and even has pointers to sites that let you create your own Passbook files. But, at least in Australia, support for the Passbook platform seems pretty sparse.

So I’m left wondering. Is anyone using Passbook regularly? Not just for the odd boarding pass but as a place to store information that they’d otherwise have on bits of plastic or cardboard in their wallet?

Using Passbook in Australia [Beau Giles]


Comments

    I dont think it was ever ment to work, the technology needed to really make it work is only just starting to come out and be introduced into devices. But what it does do is set Apple up to suing people that do use it in the future by saying they invented it first.

      It is a great idea and is used extensively in the US. The reason Australian market is slow to catch on to technology is not the fault of the technology. It works very well and as Apple designs everything else they do, passbook too is an easy to use and well implemented solution. Sorry but you sound like an Android user and yeah you're damn right, others should be sued for copying blatantly as opposed to taking an idea and making it better.

    I havent used passbook probably ever.

    Last time i looked yes, creating them is a lot harder than printing a standard barcode whats more, Passbook doesn't support old school barcodes so that you require a new scanner that can support their codes,

    In my opinion apple screwed it.

      Passbook doesn't support old school barcodes so that you require a new scanner that can support their codes
      This is the dumbest thing about this app. Why can't I use it to replace another app I have like CardStar, which displays 1d barcodes - and has let me seriously slim down my wallet.

      I've used Passbook to check in to one Virgin flight, when ideally it should be able to replace the bulk of my cards.
      I'd love to see apps like Rewardle and Beat-the-queue integrated as Passbook apps, but for whatever reason they are standalone.

        Just installed CardStar - awesome app, thanks

          I have so much trouble getting barcode readers to read barcode from a phone.

            It can be a little hit and miss, the upside with many of the apps is a number thats a lot larger than it would be on the back of a card. Sometimes even truncated.
            My Iphone 4 and 5 have worked fine at service stations, Myer (legacy and new systems), Woolies, Coles, AMF, T2, Hyots, Event Cinemas and Ikea. Mind you Myer and Hyots (at leats) now have barcode apps of their own

    Australia only has six or so Apps that will work with it. All seem to be group buying/coupon type. So a waste of space. In short no I have never used it.

    Link in article is broken. :-)

    As mentioned by @Tim, unfortunately many older laser scanners used for 1D barcodes can't read that well off an LCD screen, so that's why Apple doesn't natively support them within Passbook passes, opting for more 'modern' barcodes that are more likely to be able to be read by more recent scanners.

    Last edited 23/04/14 10:25 am

      http://beaugil.es/ios-passbook-australia/

        This link shows both a Myer One app and an Opal app, yet as far as I can see in the App Store neither of these are supported by passbook.
        Myer One has a stand-alone app with a 1D barcode.
        TfNSW not only indicate there is no official app, but warns users against 3rd party apps.
        https://www.opal.com.au/en/faqs/
        TfNSW has not developed any Opal mobile apps, and does not support any Opal mobile Apps that have been developed by 3rd parties. The Opal Terms of Use require customers to keep all usernames, passwords, personal identification numbers and answers to security questions confidential. You must not disclose this information to another person, application (including mobile apps) or system.
        TfNSW is not responsible for any loss suffered as a result of you disclosing any information contained in your Customer Profile to another person, application (including mobile application) or system. Customers who download any Mobile Apps developed by 3rd parties do so at their own risk.

      @tim didnt say that, he said the app doesn't support old barcodes.
      Old barcode scanners may indeed work with an LCD screen, in fact some apps like Cardstar already do this, and in my experience, the success has been quite good.
      Even if the scanner doesn't read it (maybe 1/10 attempts) the number appears on the screen ready to be keyed in, and larger than it would be on a wallet-card.
      Also, QR scanners have been around for 20 something years, and would likely have the same hit-and-miss ratio when looking at LCDs.

      Of course, this will vary wildly from from iPhones to other devices and screen protectors play a part too.

    " Microsoft recently reverse engineered them"

    And there's your problem. Why should people have to reverse engineer stuff just so they can use it? If you really wanted adoption of something, you'd make it open. Google Now supports QR codes for airline tickets, and companies can make these items appear in Now by adding a line of metadata to their email. Sure Google Now is proprietary, but you can easily make your own "Now-style" thing by just reading this metadata and displaying the contents of it in your application.

      'Reverse engineering' is really just parsing the rather 'standard' JSON that's very well documented by Apple - https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/PassKit_PG/PassKit_PG.pdf

      In regards to a line of metadata being all that's required for Google Now, it doesn't support much more than flight/'restaurant'/or accommodation reservations - https://developers.google.com/schemas/now/cards

      An example of a Passbook pass that couldn't be recreated with Google Now (though would work with Google Wallet) are membership cards, such as the Starwood Preferred Guest or Starbucks Card passes.

      Google Wallet does support things like membership cards - http://www.google.com/wallet/business/loyalty/index.html - and exists on Android and iOS, but is of course limited to the US only.

    Perhaps the service to too complex or costly to set up for small businesses?

    Firstly, you are asking people who are not Apple users so you wont get any answer there....
    Secondly, Passbook is used for tickets and coupons, in my Passbook I have 3 shop a dockets and 5 Ticketek tickets (3 used 2 waiting), 2 Nova docket deals and a buy one get one free coffee card....
    Thirdly, most Apple fanbois read other sites where your question may already have been answered (and more).

    Just use it for flights, Virgin use it as a boarding pass.

    I'd love to get rid of all the rubbish in my wallet, so why can't I scan a loyalty card with a barcode and take a picture of it for reference and keep that in my phone natively, with an app to switch? Instead we are reliant on third party apps, rarely updated, and with many many glitches.

      I nearly ended up with more loyalty apps than cards. The headache of managing them all is not worth it for the potential benefits.

    I don't see why we can't use passbook for other neat things like custom information I want to remember or keeping up to date on the score of football game or something. It shouldn't just be for coupons and flight tickets. like it would be cool if it could be used for buses and shit too

    I used it for the first time today on a Virgin Australia flight. And then when I was boarding they printed me out a ticket anyways. Pointless.

    I'm a Melbourne developer and have started to work on a cost effective way for small businesses to create their own Passbook Passes through a Web Interface and customers can pick up the unique pass by scanning a QR code right in the Passbook App - or for those on iOS6, the platform can also email the pass directly to them.

    Finding clients is something that I am going to struggle with, but I hope that once the model is proven, I will be able to begin a more active marketing strategy.

    Check out the demo, and I am all ears for feedback on improvement.

    http://www.customerpass.com and https://demo.customerpass.com

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