One of iOS 6’s big new features is Passbook: a one-stop shop for accessing cards and tickets that is not only available from a single app, but is also location and time-aware to make coupons and loyalty cards appear near certain locations and tickets at the time of the event. Now, it doesn’t work with just anything, unfortunately. There’s a limited selection of apps that are available at the moment with support for Passbook. There’s been some confusion on how to activate it with apps, and this guide is here to help.

First, find an app that is compatible with Passbook. Launching Passbook for the first time will come up with a short description of what Passbook can do and launches an App Store section with apps to check out. Tap that, and a variety of Apple-curated apps with Passbook support are listed. Even for apps like the Starbucks app that have a card functionality already, the card needs to be added to Passbook through the app. To show how this Passbook functionality works, let’s download the Walgreens app and add the Balance Rewards card to Passbook.

Create an account with Walgreens and sign up for their rewards card, or log in to the account if you have one already. If you signed up in-store, you can add it to a new account. Now, go to the Rewards section of the app, and the card will appear. Below, there is an Add to Passbook button. Tap this, and it will prompt to tie it to a specific store location, which will make an alert pop up when near that location. Then, a final prompt to add it to Passbook with the location information attached will pop up. Tap Add, and boom, the card is now in Passbook.

Launch the Passbook app, and all added cards and tickets will appear, including the one we just added. Tap the (i) icon to modify the individual card’s settings. This automatic card recall works on the iPod touch as well, though location detection may be spottier due to only being able to detect location by nearby wifi hotspots. Once added, cards in Passbook are accessible offline.

While Passbook is still somewhat limited as developers continue to integrate into their apps, and apps that already had user cards need to be updated to support Passbook, this is still handy, especially with its handy awareness features. Know of any useful apps using Passbook that Apple didn’t feature? Let us know in the comments.

 

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