There has been a bit of excitement running through the net recently of Apple’s impending iPhone launch, and with it, iOS 6, the new operating system, hosting a plethora of nifty new now-must-have-apps. The most important, and perhaps exciting to hit the airline industry is Passbook.
Passbook seems to be a relatively nifty idea, sorting through any vouchers, receipts, boarding passes etc, and keeping them all in one handy filing system, similar to a wallet bursting full of loyalty cards. Whilst this might right now, sound like perhaps a slightly redundant concept, the more businesses that buy into this way of presenting information, the more we’ll need to use it… similar in a lot of ways to a lot of Apple apps. So who is already buying into this?
United was the very first customer that Apple focused this on, even showing in their promotional literature. Since then, rumours have come about of Delta and AA joining, and recently Virgin Australia have tweeted that they will be utilising Passbook too, after a passenger boarded a flight with a development version of the software.
Will Passbook just be a passing fad though? From what I can tell, no. It seems to be more than just a place to store boarding passes, which would have been it’s pitfall. The iPhone is starting to really show it’s mettle. It’s location based, so say you are in the airport, up pops your boarding pass, if you are in Starbucks, there’s your loyalty card at a swipe of the lock screen. They even mention that if there is a change of gate, Passbook will let you know, so you don’t wait at the wrong gate. This live up-to-date feature makes this a cleverly thought out application, making it much more useful than just a storage centre for boarding passes. Obviously, you’d need to have location services active, and you could run the risk of racking up some serious roaming charges to have some of the live features active. But, as airports around the world are starting to wake up to free WiFi, perhaps that too, won’t be a concern, as by the time that this is taken on by a few more airlines, it will make the product a real winner.
Security could be a problem, the mobile phone now becomes your identity, and will perhaps pose a few future security risks. These I’m sure will be addressed as they surface, and Apple will still develop and maintain a users security through their new purchase of IT security company AuthenTec.
Here’s one question though, what happens if you are in Starbucks… in an airport? I’ll be downloading this soon, and I’ll let you know!