— written by Florian Kruse, Customer Solutions & Inventions — Consulting SAP Mobile Solutions itelligence AG —
Why the Passbook?
The mobile internet – what was, not that long ago, a vision of the future arrived some time back, and has become everyday reality. These days it is an unremarkable occurrence to check the weather or to call up e-mails using a mobile App; shopping by cellphone and tablet takes place more and more frequently while riding on the train or watching TV.
So it was obvious to me that the next evolutionary stage is the compression of the entire contents of my briefcase into my Smartphone. What disturbs me, personally, the most about my wallet? Tickets, discount coupons, club IDs etc. And the “Passbook” addresses exactly this point.
Everything in one place – the Passbook
Some have certainly already seen or even used the Passbook in the Menu of their Apple-Smartphones. At the moment it is used mostly with train- or airline tickets.
After a customer has bought a ticket online, it is generated in this case as a so-called “Pass” and sent from the seller to the customer. The iPhone can now open this “Pass” and file it in the Passbook. Using the Passbook, the customer can then quickly open a boarding pass at the airport (for example) without having to search in her or his wallet.
I have tried this service out often during flights and have established through my own tests that this new function is extremely practical, since one must no longer attempt, after check-in, to find a place for the ticket again somewhere in a pocket. It is sufficient to simply put the iPhone in a pocket.
Does it have other uses too or is that it?
According to a press release, beginning this year the CeBIT will make admission tickets available in this manner as well. Thus you will be able to forget about printing the digital ticket, and can carry it comfortably and accessibly in your iPhone.
Sounds good. But in the U.S., for example, they are a good bit ahead of us. There, in some cases, even discount or customer coupons are being sent via the Passbook, which of course lightens the wallets of American users by several cards.
The structure of your own “pass”
In order to create your custom-designed “pass“, several steps are necessary.
First you should decide what the final appearance of your “pass” should be. You can use one of the many Passbook generators in the internet, for example: http://www.passsource.com/.
It is also possible to create such a “pass” yourself manually. A “pass” consists of the following individual data files:
icon.png / email@example.com – This data file contains the icon with which the “pass” is shown in an e-mail.
Logo.png / firstname.lastname@example.org – The logo, which is shown above at the top of the “pass”. It can vary according to pass type.
Strip.png / email@example.com – This data file represents a “header”-image. The display varies according to the type of “pass“.
Pass.json – Contains all information in the json-format for the structure of the “pass”.
Manifest.json – In this data file all SAH1 hashcodes of the other data files are listed for validation.
Now, in order to customize your pass, you can define the contents in the Pass.json data file and fill out the spaces according to your wishes (e.g. with a QR code).
As orientation help, Apple offers documentation on the possible spaces/fields which can be used. This and further information on the Passbook can be found at: https://developer.apple.com/passbook/
When you have created a “pass” according to your own wishes, the next step is to generate a so-called “pkpass” data file. You can send this directly to the receiver, who can then open the “pass” on her or his iPhone and add it to the Passbook.
Detailed information on lettering and generation can be found on the following Apple pages.
The right layout for every use
When generating your “pass” you have a choice of 5 different types.
These different types vary mainly in the location of the individual fields and the appearance of the “pass” itself. The fifth type is called “generic”.
In this one several fields are all available, and you can thus create an almost completely individualized “pass”.
Now, how can you make productive use of the Passbook?
In answer to this question I immediately see two possible areas of use: The first involves a virtual business card which can be carried in the Passbook. To realize this, a “pass” is designed with the desired appearance. In the QR code a “VCard” can now be coded. This enables the time-saving addition of contact information in the cellphone of a Passbook user through the simple scanning of the QR code.
The next option is the (already in wider use) distribution of virtual customer cards. The customer number is coded onto the pass in QR code, enabling quick selection of the correct customer data.
What do you think – which possibilities for integration do you see for the Passbook in your company?