Passbook is Apple's first foray into something that slightly resembles a mobile payment solution. Passbook is a new app included in iOS 6 that allows merchants to develop Passes to be stored in the user's Passbook.
With the release of iOS 6 only a few hours old, there aren't too many examples of apps that have incorporated Passbook into them, so I used this site to help me make some sample Passes just for this post.
When you launch Passbook for the first time, it will more than likely be empty. There will be a link that takes you to the App Store to help you find apps with Passbook integration.
Apps aren't the only way to add Passes to your Passbook, however. Passes can be downloaded through Safari or the Mail app on your iPhone or iPod Touch, along with the same apps on OS X 10.8.2. Notice the iPad isn't one of the devices in that list. Apple chose to not include Passbook, or its capabilities, on the iPad.
Adding a Pass is easy. When you open the Pass, no matter what the source is, you're able to preview it. There's a front and back, both of which contain information about the Pass. If you're satisfied with the information on the Pass, tap on Add.
You'll see a fancy animation and the Pass will vanish from your screen. You can then open the Passbook app and view any Passes you have added. Switching between them is as simple as tapping, or swiping to the respective Pass. Depending on how the merchant uses Passbook, you may not even have to go into Passbook to have your Pass scanned. More on that in a minute.
On the back of some Passes you'll notice there are options. Some Passes will ask for permission to monitor your location, others will ask for permission to use background data for automatic updates. Leaving the option for a Pass to appear in a lock screen will allow Passes triggered by your location or at a specific time to show up without you doing anything.
Passes you allow to update automatically will alert you to any important changes. For example, a boarding pass for a flight where your gate has changed will update in the background and push the new information to your lock screen, alerting you of the change.
You may notice when a Pass is open on your iPhone, the screen brightness automatically changes and the screen timeout no longer works. This is by design. Apple has determined that brightness to be the best for a successful scan of the bar code, and if there is trouble, having the screen turn off midscan can be extremely frustrating.
Once you're done with a card, you can view the back side of it and tap on the Trash Can button.
Passbook is the one feature added to iOS 6 whose success completely relies on developers and merchants implementing it. During the iPhone 5 announcement, and the WWDC announcement in June, Apple used example passes from Starbucks, Ticketmaster, MLB, Delta, Fandango, and more. Hopefully these were more than just passes Apple created, but a sign of big name companies adopting Passbook. Only time will tell.