You’ve probably heard about Apple’s Passbook application that shipped with iOS6 when it launched last year. We were hard at work before Passbook launched to deliver for Cooper & Co the first full Passbook integration in Jersey. As a fully signed-up Apple fanboy, I think it's awesome!
I’m not going to talk much about the iOS6 passbook app itself but more about the changes that we’ll see with the upcoming iOS7 release later this year (autumn). Nothing technical.
If you’re using the Passbook app a lot, you’ll know how it works. You can add a pass straight from an email in Mail or you can add it from Safari. It’s easy and it works. Boom! iOS automatically picks up that it’s a pass and does the right thing. No need to wait for your pass/voucher to come down by post, later putting it in you wallet to just forget about it.
There aren’t many new front facing features for passbook on iOS7, which saves me from writing lots of words. But that doesn’t mean that the changes that are coming are insignificant.
One of the biggest new features in Passbook for iOS7 is the ‘Scan Code’ functionality at the top right of the default welcome screen. This means you can add a pass by scanning a compatible code (QR, Aztec and PDF 417 to be precise) using your camera. No more clicking on links. You can probably think of many uses for this already, I certainly can! “Get 25% off ice cream, just add to passbook by scanning this code”, yes please! Or you buy a voucher online, checkout and be presented with a code that you can scan straight into passbook. Job done.
There's also a new Passbook icon. It’s colourful and reflects the UI changes in iOS7. That also means that pass styling is going to follow the same rules. Fewer colour gradients on passes and fewer effects on images. It will make them really pop given the right colour schemes. Orange is nice!
Passes are now full width compared to the slightly thinner version in 6. Not huge but if you want to be pixel perfect it’s increasing from the current 312pt to 320pt.
Most importantly, you can now easily share passes from within Passbook. Currently you would have to forward a link or an email that you have originally received. Clicking on the new share icon on your pass, you’ll have the option to email it, send an iMessage or use AirDrop. Great for sharing with your friends and family. It also works when you share your pass with a friend that uses iOS6 - nice one!
That sums up the Passbook changes that you will see when iOS7 comes out this autumn (or "fall" as I mistakenly said in the office). Obviously there are a lot more changes for us developers that we are playing with right now to make the user experience naturally better. I won’t go into detail just yet and will save it for another time...