While the promise of Passbook was intriguing, the first release of Apple’s mobile ticket, gift card, coupon and loyalty card repository in September was an underwhelming user experience. It wasn’t listed as a new addition in the release notes, but I was pleased to see in the iOS 6.1 update on Monday that Apple has addressed one of my biggest concerns: helping people understand what Passbook does, why they would want to use it, and where they can find apps that work with Passbook.
Apple has thankfully restored the Welcome screen to Passbook that explains what it does as well as the vital link “Apps for Passbook” that takes users to a special page in the App Store listing apps that are Passbook compatible. There you’ll find apps from companies like Sephora, Fandango and United, that were available upon launch. But Apple has many more available for download now.
The change is that Apple has kept this page and accompanying link around permanently: in the initial version of iOS 6, after you downloaded your first Passbook app, the link to the section of the App Store with Passbook-enabled apps disappeared. Simply searching the App Store from the iPhone itself for “Passbook apps” yielded nothing, however. The release lacked Apple’s typical attention to detail, which is why it stuck out as a particularly bad experience. (For users who already understand the utility of Passbook and want to delete this Welcome pass, there’s also now a button to do that.)
It’s a small thing, but if Apple truly wants to get its users used to paying for coffee or boarding planes or scanning a baseball game ticket with their iPhone, it’s important to guide them through it.