Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Ruminating on Apple Passbook

The Apple 'Passbook' is an iOS application that allows users to store coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, gift cards (or any other card for that matter) on their phone. Hence it functions as a digital wallet.
Apple defines passes as - "Passes are a digital representation of information that might otherwise be printed on small pieces of paper or plastic. They let users take an action in the physical world, in the same way as boarding passes, membership cards, and coupons."

The Passbook application intelligently pops-up the pass (2D barcodes) on the 'locked screen' at the right time/place - i.e. either triggered by place using GPS tracking or triggered by time.

It's common sense to realize that the success of this app would largely depend on the number of partners who agree to publish their passes/cards in a format that is compatible with Apple Passbook. Many gift card companies have started adopting Passbook and are sending their coupons as Passbook attachments.

So what does a Passbook pass in digital format contain? The pass file is essentially a zip file with the *.pkpass extension. The zip file contains meta-data as JSON files and images as PNG files.
This format is an open format and hence any merchant or organization can adopt this standard and allow their customers to use the digital format of their coupon/pass/gift certificate/gift card, etc.