Apple's Passbook passes are being used by Windows Phone 8.1 and Microsoft Wallet
When Apple introduced Passbook apps, passes, tickets, help, and how-to") in iOS 6 they billed it as a way to store all your tickets, coupons, boarding passes, loyalty programs, and other cards all in one place. It's hard to imagine they expected that place to one day be Microsoft Wallet, but thanks to Windows Phone 8.1 that appears to be exactly what's happening.
Apple code-signs their Passbook cards, and it's not yet clear if Microsoft is simply accepting Apple certificates or accepting any pass regardless of whether it's signed or not.
Apple also provides a push-notification-based service to update cards, like gate numbers on boarding passes or balance info on Starbucks cards. Windows Phone can read and render the .pkpass bundle, but they probably can't hook into Apple's push system so, if updates are possible, there'd have to be some Microsoft-specific support from the supplier, or laborious polling process in place.
In a perfect world a system like Passbook would be universal and everyone could use and benefit from it no matter who manufactured their device or built their operating system. That's how we get standards and standards is how we get mass market adoption.
From Apple's point of view, however, Passbook is a feature that adds to the value of the iPhone and the experience of iPhone customers.
If there's no official agreement going on here, it's possible Apple would put a stop to Passbook support when they find out about it and if they can, technically or legally. If there's some form of cooperation going on, or some future agreement to be had, that could end up being a good solution for everyone, from the companies to Apple and Microsoft to us, the people who want these kinds of services made ubiquitous.
What about you — do you like the idea of Windows Phone 8.1 working with Passbook?
Daniel Rubino contributed to this story.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
As for letting Microsoft use it, hopefully it will encourage Apple and other businesses to sign on. If that's the case then I'd hope Apple wouldn't stop the possible increase in new vendor signing on. That said I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple tell Microsoft to stop as it is a feature that Apple developed to encourage sales of iPhones.
2.Is it possible to patent the process to make the files? Yes. But that doesn't mean Microsoft even uses the process. If the applications are different which they'd likely have to be to work on Windows then you're talking about two different products and patent protection in the design likely wouldn't flow nor copyright as they aren't substantially similar. Regardless, at this point Apple having a patent that would prevent anyone else from reading such a file is purely speculative. And even if they patent elements of Passbook, unless microsoft is using the same app I don't see that as protecting them much. Even if you want to make a claim that they violate the look and feel well it's quite easy for Microsoft to simply alter how the app is presented so it doesn't look similar. Regardless, i don't see a problem. I don't see anyone doing anything but making a competing product with compatible standards.