Apple has stepped in it quite badly when it comes to their Passbook app. It comes down to which metaphor they’d like to use and please, stick to whichever it is. I write specifically after updating my Starbucks app on my iPhone and the app asked if I wanted to add a card to my Passbook. So far my understanding of Passbook was that there was a stump-app which led you to the App Store to “buy” apps for different companies, so Target, Walgreens, that sort of thing and that those “Apps” were to be eventually organized in a Passbook folder.
So I start the Starbucks app, and it prompts me to add a Passbook card, so I figure there will be another app icon called “Starbucks” that I can put in the folder with all the other unused “Passbook” apps that I don’t use. And there is nothing. Huh. So I looked at the app for a while and couldn’t find where it put my Passbook “App” icon. I figured it must have been broken. That the download was buggy or broken. I completely ignored the Passbook app itself, because it was just a stump, why the hell would I use it again? It led to the App Store and that was how you entered the App Store if you wanted to waste time screwing around with Passbook bullshit. So I tapped on the app expecting to see the lame text and the link to the App Store, and there was my Starbucks Passbook card. As an added bit of huh, the link to the App Store is gone. So, okay. No more Passbook apps then for me, which I guess is fine.
It’s this really loopy “It’s an app” versus “it’s a card” metaphor that I’m griping at. It could have been more elegant, as for usefulness, eh. I don’t think of my phone when it comes to buying things. Phones don’t do that sort of thing, except now they do.
When it comes to Starbucks, we have a host of other problems that are going to pop up. I can’t use my Starbucks card at Barnes & Noble because it’s not a true Starbucks store, it’s B&N’s Cafe that serves Starbucks products. How many people will try to use their Starbucks card or this Passbook app? They’ll get irritated and be disinclined to use Passbook again. I know that feeling because I tried to use my Starbucks app at a Starbucks shop in McCormick Place in Chicago and was told they only accept cash or credit cards. That was the last time I used my Starbucks app except for just this morning to engage with this whole Passbook bullshit. So, even if you walk into a store that sells Starbucks, is a Starbucks, they may or may not use what you have. So having your phone out and ready to go and make things speedy utterly fails and you walk away without what you wanted, angry at the embarrassment. Then what are you supposed to do about some of those Starbucks that have drive-thru service? Do you honestly think people will hand their iPhones to a clerk for scanning? How stupid do you have to be to hand your expensive iPhone to anyone else? What if a compromising text pops up while they are scanning your iPhone? What then? I know why Apple would like Passbook to be useful and I’m all for new ways of addressing old problems, but there has to be a better way to do it. I suppose this really would only work well if you walked up to a Starbucks store, and there was some icon stating that the Passbook card would be accepted for purchases on the premises, then maybe then. But at that point how irritated would you be that you had to go hunting and searching for it? Then would you really even be interested in buying anything or just skipping it altogether?
So, the worthless Target and Walgreens apps, the weird App/Card thing with Starbucks, and how you can’t even be sure that any of it would work leads me to think that this is all just so much DOA technology. You aren’t going to use it because it’s too much bother. I can’t wait until some airline thinks they can stuff a boarding pass into this thing. Do you seriously think that a thieving TSA drone will give you back your iPhone? They’ll hand you back your Photo ID and pocket your phone. But that touches on the criminals that work for the TSA, but it’s still a REALLY BAD IDEA. Perhaps there will be something eventually that makes Passbook worth anyones time and trouble. I wouldn’t hold your breath.