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Apple unveils Passbook app, dips its toes into the e-wallet world

iPhone PassBook appAt its annual World Wide Developer’s Conference keynote today, Apple took the lid off of iOS 6, a new line of MacBooks, its new Maps app, but there were some smaller, but notable announcements as well. Passbook is one of them.

As transcribed by GDGT, Passbook is: “The simplest way to get all your passes in one place. … There are a lot of great apps that put your boarding passes and tickets right into the app.” United’s app, Starbucks, movie tickets… “The problem is, when you get to the movie theater, you have to fumble around to find the app and then the ticket.”

This isn’t a full e-wallet system like Google Wallet, as it doesn’t attempt to gather up your credit cards and bank accounts, but Apple is taking the first steps toward such a system. It may be a wise approach, as Google has encountered a lot of user (and wireless carrier) resistance to its full e-payment system. Passbook lets you collect airport boarding passes, store loyalty cards, and movie tickets so you can have them all in one place.

We don’t have full details yet, but it appears that the app will automatically open when your iPhone detects that you’re in a location (like Starbucks) where you own a loyalty card. We imagine that new types of cards will be added in the future. 

Templates and other developer tools are being released. Apple is hopeful that the new app will be widely integrated. 

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