Apple consumers in the US and elsewhere can now tap into the new iTunes Pass feature to add funds to buy their favorite iTunes and App Store items.
Initially rolled out just in Japan earlier this week, iTunes Pass landed in the US, Australia, and Germany late Wednesday, according to AppleInsider. The US-based iTunes Gift page that features iTunes Pass doesn't list specific availability across the world but does state that the feature is unavailable in Brazil, China, and Turkey.
So what's the big deal about iTunes Pass?
iTunes Pass integrates with Apple's Passbook feature as a way for you to deposit funds in your iTunes account through an Apple retail store so you can more easily purchase items. The new feature expands on Apple's adoption of electronic payments so you don't need to buy physical gift cards, use credit or debit cards, or keep track of redemption codes to shop in the iTunes Store or App Store. Apple introduced its Passbook "digital wallet" in 2012 but so far has taken only baby steps in enhancing the way consumers can use the feature. iTunes Pass is a small but welcome and useful enhancement.
And how does iTunes Pass work? Apple explains the feature as follows:
"Now you can add money directly to your iTunes or App Store account with iTunes Pass. To get iTunes Pass, go to the iTunes Store on your iOS device, scroll down, and tap the Redeem button. Then go in to any Apple Retail Store and let a Specialist know you want to add credit to your account. Open iTunes Pass in Passbook, and have the Specialist scan it and accept your payment. Your balance will be updated and can be used immediately."
From there you can buy items in the iTunes Store and App Store simply by tapping into your existing Passbook funds without having to rely on a separate financial account.