Yesterday, during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, the new iOS6 was previewed before its full release this fall. While there are a heap of new elements added to the release of iOS6, including more integration Facebook and a different map application, one new feature stood out – the Passbook.
The Passbook is Apple’s version of the e-wallet, albeit a first (safe?) step towards a full mobile wallet. Apple described Passbook as a handy wallet organiser that uses geolocation technology to make sure the correct card or ticket is at hand.
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.
Most of the cards that Apple showed use 2-D barcodes (including QR codes). Good news for those airlines or retail outlets that have a system in place today that incorporates this technology (No surprise that Starbucks and United Airlines are used in the example). however, nothing was said about NFC or even low-power Bluetooth technology (we’ve written on both of these subjects as possible inclusions into the new iPhone before). Although other commentators have pointed out that the WDC yesterday was about the IOS6 – not the iPhone. However, Apple has given no indication that it has embraced NFC technology at all and with penetration rates of NFC still fairly low, the company may think it is too premature at this point of time to incorporate it within their handsets. Perhaps they reason that it is easier to follow with 2-D codes instead.
We wouldn’t want to join in the speculation game that happens when Apple previews something new but we do generally see this as a step towards some form of Apple wallet (notice the Apple iTunes Store card in the graphic). We look forward to the preview of the new iPhone later this year to see how far down the mobile wallet road Apple is really willing to travel.