iPhone 5 customers will be able to store loyalty cards and coupons on their devices. Here's how to make sure they can access yours, too.
When the iPhone 5 will be unleashed to the masses Sept. 21, they will arrive in consumers' hands with iOS 6 and a new app called Passbook. If that last part doesn't mean much to you, read on--because it should.
Passbook is an app that stores things like boarding passes, coupons, loyalty cards, and tickets on your iPhone. It's location aware, meaning if you show up at the airport it will zap your boarding pass to your lock screen so you don't have to fumble around in email or elsewhere looking for it; or if you have money stored on a Starbucks tab, it will automatically pull up your card when you enter a store so you can pay for your latte by scanning your phone at the POS.
If you're Starbucks or Delta Airlines, Passbook is great for business. But what about the little guys? If you're a small business can you build passes that work in Apple's new OS?
Your Ticket into the iPhone 5
Yes, you can build passes--thanks to a Silicon Valley start-up called Tello.
Ever since Apple announced Passbook at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Tello has been working on a new product called PassTools which helps businesses build and manage passes for the app.
It lets businesses--from independent store owners who want to create a simple coupon to huge enterprises looking to generate hundreds of thousands of passes every day--build passes in minutes.
"We've built the world's first visual pass builder so you can go in and start specifying 'I want the background to be this color' and 'I'm going to put my logo in the upper left corner,' so you can upload images. You can type in text and every time you change something it shows up right on the screen next to where you're building it," says Tello founder and CEO Joe Beninato.
In addition to the pass builder in PassTools, other features include a template builder for high volume personalized passes, the PassTools API for managing passes as well as a dashboard that gives you analytics regarding the passes you've created.
You can try PassTools for 30 days with no credit card required--just an email address and a password, Beninato says. After that, it's $99 a month for the basic plan, which lets you build up to 1,000 passes. A premium tier is $999 a month and lets you do up to 20,000 passes and a third tier for enterprises who need to do more than 20,000 passes is available for a negotiated rate.
"I think this area is going to explode in the next couple of years. You're already seeing Google Wallet hot on the market. Now it's Apple's turn with iOS 6 and I think businesses are going to have to decide how actively they want to support some of these new technologies," Beninato says. "It's a huge boon for consumers. You won't have to carry around all these airline cards and coupons and whatever else in your wallet. Now it will all be built into your phone and someday that will include credit cards as well."
CHRISTINA DESMARAIS is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com. @salubriousdish