Passbook is a brand new, built-in app for iOS 6 designed to serve as a one-stop repository for all the tickets, coupons, gift cards, and other vouchers provided by third-party App Store apps. That means all the stuff in your Apple Store app, Starbucks app, Delta app, Fandango app, and more is easily accessible via a single Home screen icon, and what's more -- Passbook knows what time it is and where you are, so it can put whatever card you need right on your Lock screen, right when you need it.
Here's what Apple has to say about Passbook:
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.
And here's what they've shown off of it so far:
Passbook is interesting in that a) instead of making a repository for something traditional, like documents, Apple is doing it for something still on the horizon, digital vouchers; and b) unlike Google and Microsoft, it's not yet a real mobile wallet with built-in payments yet.
That makes Passbook stuck in both the past and the future. It has QR and bar codes, not NFC or other wireless transaction processing. It hooks into existing apps, not Apple's massive iTunes cash register. It feels like a first step, a testing of the waters. The only question is how long it takes mainstream users to decide those waters and fine, and want to dive in, and for Apple to get the partnerships in place to take that next step.
For now, however, if you have passes in apps, Passbook makes it easier than ever to swipe, scan, and go.
iOS 6 is scheduled for release this fall, perhaps as soon as September 19. For more on iOS 6 check out: