A great idea…
The idea of going to a concert and, when I got to the venue, having my tickets show up on my lock screen a swipe away from being scannable at the door, was not only an incredible concept, but it was also an amazing convenience!
Then when I saw the companies involved, companies like Ticketmaster and Eventbrite, Fandango, major Airlines, Target and even REI… I suddenly had this wonderful feeling that all of that fishing around in my wallet that I do at the register or at a venue entrance, would finally be done with! It was a nice thought!
So what happened?
Well, I don’t go to too many Ticketmaster-based shows (and my experience so far, a lot of Ticketmaster venues don’t even support scanning tickets on phone screens anyways). I like seeing movies in independently owned theaters. I rarely shop at Target. REI’s implementation is pretty weak (it only displays my member card number), and my main Airline (for better or worse, US Airways), has somewhat of a “if you blink, you’ll miss it” integration of Passbook. So when I do occasionally fly, I completely overlook it.
With the exception of one concert that had tickets setup through Eventbrite (which worked quite well by the way), I had yet to have that quintessential Passbook experience: where several tasks in one outing were completely handled without me having to unlock my phone or print something out on paper.
Not until this last weekend that is. :)
I was getting away for the weekend, for a self-imposed writing retreat in Charlotte. I booked a flat in the downtown area through AirBnB (I’m a HUGE fan of the service) and found the fares for a round trip ticket from Durham on Amtrak to be surprisingly cheap. I knew AirBnB had Passbook integration but I was honestly surprised when I found that Amtrak did too!
Two train tickets, one accommodation reservation and just like that: I finally had my test case!
The game was afoot! :)
I added both train tickets and my AirBnB reservation to Passbook a week prior and went on with life until the weekend came for me to leave.
My expectations were fairly basic. I wanted to arrive at the train station in Durham (and Charlotte on the way home), get a notification, swipe the notification on my lock screen, have the conductor scan the displayed ticket, and board the train. Upon arrival to where I was staying, I wanted another notification to pop up when I got close to the address and have all of my reservation info readily accessible, with clickable phone numbers and addresses (postal and electronic).
In fairness, I already knew that the info I needed for where I was staying would be displayed on the AirBnB Passbook card. But what I didn’t know, was if it would show up on the lock screen automatically when I got close to the address.
That all said, how did it work?
Amazingly well! The day of my Amtrak departure, as the time got close, a notification came up telling me the time that my train was supposed to leave. Not only that, it also told me that the train station I was leaving from was nearby (info I already knew, but still)!
When the train got to the station and the conductor started asking for tickets, I swiped the notification on my lock screen and there was my ticket, with my name, order number, departure/arrival time and a scannable bar code that worked perfectly with their scanners. I showed the conductor my phone, he scanned my lock screen and I hopped aboard. It was that easy! No questions were asked and many other passengers had the exact same experience.
Next up? My arrival at my accommodations for the weekend.
The place I was staying at was within walking distance from the train station in Charlotte, so I hoofed it. As I got within a half a mile from the address (give or take), I took my iPhone out and, lo and behold, there was the AirBnB reservation notification on my lock screen! When I got to the location, I swiped right on the notification and it instantly gave me my reservation info, including phone numbers to reach the owner and instructions on how to check in and check out. After I settled in, I texted the owner as a courtesy to let him know that I arrived (and on the day I left), but other than that, I never spoke to, or saw him.
Honestly, it couldn’t have worked better! The train ride back to Durham worked just as well as the train ride to Charlotte: without a single hitch.
The idea behind Passbook is an experience that is totally in Apple’s wheelhouse. They have always thrived on making those mundane, “everyday life” experiences that we simply put up with, easier and better.
With a such a great Passbook experience under my belt, I was instantly left wondering why it had taken me this long to experience it (hard to believe it’s been 8 months since iOS 6 was released into the wild). Though I am sure there are totally rational reasons why so little companies have added Passbook integration to their respective apps, I do think it’s a shame and a total missed opportunity. Because these two companies did, I have even more love for AirBnB’s service and I absolutely look forward to riding Amtrak again. For the first time ever, I went on a trip away from home and didn’t have print a single sheet of paper before I left. I mean, how cool is that?
Until more adoption takes place, I guess we’ll just have to take these great and ultra-convenient moments when we can get them.
If anything, I just wanted to share my experience with you all, so that you know these kinds of textbook “Apple moments” do exist. That they don’t just look cool in the commercials.
What do you think? Have any of you had good experiences with Passbook? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about them!