The latest major update to the iOS Apple Store app is here. Passbook integration was expected but Apple didn't stop there. Users of the app can now use Siri to get information about Apple products using voice queries.
Changes have been made to point-of-sale devices in Apple's retail stores to complement the additional functionality found in the Apple Store app. Passbook-ready digital gift cards came online just yesterday, and can now be purchased, gifted and used to pay for Apple products.
Pretty soon Passbook users will have another place to flash their iPhone for payment, at Apple retail stores. The EasyPay system already in place at Apple's stores will be updated by the end of October with Passbook support.
Although the initial launch may be limited to using prepaid gift cards, once the framework is in place Apple could expand its capabilities. With over 400 million active iTunes accounts linked to credit cards, Apple could accept payment from customers using an Apple ID.
Much like Apple's iOS 6 Maps app, the mobile payments Passbook app is a work in progress. iOS users will eventually be able to keep thousands of store coupons, boarding passes and store cards in one place. For example, Starbucks Card owners can now pay for food and beverages through the Passbook app.
Users can add their add their Starbucks Card to Passbook by accessing the “My Card” tab in the Starbucks application. The Starbucks app version 2.4 also allows users to check their balances, reload their cards, track their "My Starbucks Rewards" status and send eGifts to a friends.
Interested to see Apple's Passbook app in action on the beta version of iOS 6? With all of the buzz surrounding potential NFC payment technology possibly making its way into the next iPhone, the Passbook app just got more interesting. Already Apple has explained that the app will save retail loyalty cards, plane tickets and more all in one convenient place.
Activating Passbook on your device is easy if you already have the developer beta of iOS 6 installed. The app is already installed, however in order to work it requires individual entries to be created. Luckily there's a website that you can access using mobile Safari that will set up Passbook info, activating the app.
A 19-pin dock connector and 4G LTE may not be the only new features the next generation iPhone will be packing. The new device could be equipped with NFC (Near Field Communications) technology. An NFC chip allows smartphones to interact with other devices in a very close proximity. The addition of NFC capabilities and the recently announced Passbook app will allow Apple to finally compete with Google Wallet.
9to5Mac claims that they discovered clues of Apple's plans to add NFC hidden in a hardware code dump. They also cited Jim Peters, CTO of SITA who said retailers should prepare themselves for Apple to sneak its way into the lucrative world of mobile payments.