Getting started with Passbook

Anthony Caruana
27 April, 2015
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The Passbook application was introduced into iOS a couple of years ago. It’s purpose is to hold and display details relating to cards and paper documents. For example, it’s where your credit card information is held if you use Apple pay – we’re hoping to see that in Australia later this year – or discount vouchers, boarding passes, loyalty cards, tickets and other bits and pieces that can clutter our wallets, purses and bags.

Passbook works with Pass files. Typically, these are suffixed with the ‘pkpass’ extension. When you click a link to a pkpass file Passbook offers to store that card for you.

So, how do you create a pkpass file?

There are five types of Pass. These are boarding passes, coupons, event tickets, store cards, and the good old generic. Most cards consist of some textual information and a barcode or QR Code. As passbook is hooked into iCloud, once you add a Pass to passbook, it will be synced to your other devices including the Apple Watch. However, as a friend of ours discovered, the barcode readers at one airline’s gates are poorly designed to take advantage.

The good news is there are services out there for creating pkpass files – remember, these aren’t apps in their own right. They are simply files that can be added to passbook.

Some of the services out there are PassRocket, PassKit, PassDock, PassPages, WalletKit, PassSlot and PassWallet.

Why would you bother?

With Google’s recent changes to their search result algorithm favouring mobile sites, it’s clear we’re moving to an age where mobile needs to be the first consideration when designing online services and not an add-on that’s considered later. That means looking at platforms and systems that work with mobile users is not longer something extra – it’s a primary consideration.

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