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Is Your iPhone Passbook Empty? Create Your Own With These Tools

Is Your iPhone Passbook Empty? Create Your Own With These Tools

October 16, 2012
One of the new features of iOS 6 has been the introduction of Apple’s Passbook app. By using it, customers can collect and use coupons, customer reward cards, tickets, and more. Unfortunately, the number of Passbook-enabled apps remains small nearly a month after iOS 6 was first launched to the public. There is more to Passbook, however, than the number of apps it supports. Apple has designed the app so that developers and novices alike can create passes for apps, websites, and for email use. Because of this, there are already third-party solutions available for anyone that wants to create passes, whether they are an individual, small business, or large company. Five of these solutions are presented here including: PassSource, PassTools, PassK.It, Passdock, and PassPages.


With PassSource, users can create passes using templates. Best of all, some of the most popular companies are already represented here, including Costco, Sam’s Club, Kroger, and more. You can also create generic cards, including coupons, boarding passes, store cards, and more. Although you can actually create passes using PassSource using any Web browser, we suggest using it through mobile Safari on your iPhone. This way, the process of moving the pass to Passbook is much simpler. In this example, I’ll create a Best Buy Reward Zone Card. To get started, make sure you have your existing card in front of you. If you do not, you may print out a replacement card on Best Buy’s Rewards Zone website. To create the Best Buy pass card with PassSource, you must enter the barcode number from your card, your member name and I.D., and your phone number. PassSource also asks for a username, and password. However, these last two items won’t actually show up on your pass. Still, text of some sort is still required in both of these fields thanks to Apple’s rules. Our advice is to use the default information, which includes “myemailaddress,” and “password,” respectively. Once your pass is complete, hit “create” and then “add” from your iPhone. Your card will now reside in Passbook. If you create a pass with PassSource using a Mac or PC, you will need to send the file to your email, and then open it on your iPhone. Using PassSource, we were able to create three different passes including ones for Best Buy, CVS, and Sam’s Club. Some points worth mentioning: We cannot stress enough that you should create your PassSource passes on your iPhone, and not on a computer. By doing so, the process is much less confusing. Additionally, be very careful when answering the questions asked for each type of card. Many of these are confusing and not really necessary from a functionality perspective. However, they are still required. PassSource isn’t charging for the demo passes templates mentioned above. For those that want more customization or would like to use the company’s API, two pricing packages are available beginning at $8 per month. AppAdvice caters primarily to individuals. Because of this, we highly recommend PassSource. Not only did we find it easy to use, but also it seems less focused on pleasing a corporate client, like the rest of the solutions mentioned here. Pros: Easy to use, primarily for individuals. Cons: Some of the field requirements are confusing. Better instruction guides would be helpful.


Offering a free 30-day trial, PassTools is primarily targeted to those folks interested in creating hundreds, if not, thousands of passes. As such, the service is a great tool for businesses looking to bring their loyalty programs and coupons into the 21st century. PassTools also explains which fields Apple requires and why, which is something missing on many of the other websites mentioned here. If you’re technically savvy, by all means try PassTools. For everyone else, especially individuals, we’d suggest sticking with something simpler like PassSource. Pros: Great learning tool. Best company solution. Cons: Not the easiest of solutions. Can’t create passes without adding image files. Very expensive with the least expensive package $99 per month.


PassK.It is another website which offers the creation, distribution, and management of passes for businesses. With the company’s Pass Designer, you have the ability to fully customize passes by adding photos, logos, descriptions, and color schemes. You may tryout any plan free for 30 days. These plans include personal, small biz, developer, business, and enterprise. Additionally, you can create 10 passes for circulation anytime for free, or up to 100 passes per month. These passes, however, expire after 14 days. Pros: Compatible with iOS 6 and Android. Freebie passes. Lowest priced plan is just $9.99 per month. Cons: Difficult to follow directions, no real-world templates.


Of the current Passbook pass solutions, we found Passdock to be the most fun, mainly for the sample templates they provide. Additionally, because the service remains in beta, there is no cost to users at the present time. Like with the other solutions, you can also use Passdock to create generic passes on the fly. Passdock is also unique in that they highlight Passbook uses not normally mentioned in Apple’s press releases. These include using Passbook as a room key, fitness card, season ticket, and much more. Pros: Free for now, service thinks “outside of the box.” Cons: Again, not really for individual use.


Although PassPages has potential, it was the least impressive of the bunch. Still, PassPages does cater to individual and business users. Although you can use the service to create and edit sample passes, PassPages only has two types of passes you can create – coupons and store cards. Plus, we found it the most difficult solution to use since it came with very little documentation. Pros: Good for individuals and businesses. Cons: Prices aren’t yet available on the PassPages website. Interface isn’t as intuitive as some of the others. AppAdvice is first and foremost a consumer site. Therefore, we rated each of these solutions with the individual in mind. PassSource and PassPages are the best in this regard. By contrast, the best overall Passbook solution is a tossup between PassTools and Passdock, with the former winning by a nose mainly due to the learning tools they provide. Which pass creator are you using?  

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