The Hills Are Greener: Apple “Pass”-ing on to Android

The Hills Are Greener: Apple “Pass”-ing on to Android

Feb 11, 2013

Apple has a reputation for locked-down devices and services that try to keep users on the Apple side of the fence. It’s hard to leave when they offer so many services that can helpfully tie in with other Apple services, isn’t it? It’s a great way to get people to not stray. However, there’s one particular irony that has struck me recently as I was doing some research into Passbook: the file format they created for displaying membership cards, tickets, and other information, is actually on Android. There’s an app caled PassWallet that can open up manually-downloaded Passbook files and use it to display Passbook cards. While apps that integrate with Passbook will not quite work with this, it’s still one of Apple’s killer features done through a third party.

Now, this seems distinctly un-Apple, right? After all, protocols like iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime are all essentially locked down to Apple devices. Apple would never create a standard that others could use openly?

Not true! Consider your web browser. If it’s the stock Android browser or Chrome, then it’s based off of WebKit, which is an Apple invention that they released as open source. Yes, Android fanboys, there’s significant technology that Apple helped to create powering Android devices. Go figure.

So what’s the point? Well, when Apple goes and makes things that can be used by everyone, good things happen. If Passbook cards get officially opened up and adopted on a more widespread basis, mobile users could come one step closer to lightening their wallets or ditching them entirely. And Apple can still claim a quality advantage. Safari still works better than Google Chrome on mobile (desktop is another story). Passbook has the advantage of Apple’s official integration, meaning it works extremely well. When I’m near a location, my cards automatically show. It’s very cool.

But just think if Apple finally opened up FaceTime – the potential for a video calling standard could finally be realized. Or if iMessage opened up. If Apple adopted some form of mobile payments, the industry would have to follow. Apple is an industry leader, and they make quality products and services: if they stopped hoarding them, then who knows what benefits would come to everyone, including Android users?