How to Use the Passbook App on Your Apple Watch

By Marc Saltzman

Just like the app on your iOS devices — iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch — Passbook is available on Apple Watch, and it also lets you store your airline boarding passes, movie and sports tickets, coupons, loyalty cards, and much more. Think of it as a kind of digital wallet.

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Accessing Passbook from your wrist is awesome — like having an airline attendant scan a QR code on your wrist while you’re negotiating an important deal on your iPhone. Plus, location and time services allow Passbook to notify you about relevant information just when you need it, such as gate changes at the airport.

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Introduced in iOS 6, Passbook is “a digital representation of information that might otherwise be printed on small pieces of paper or plastic,” Apple says. “They let users take an action in the physical world.”

When you download an app that supports Passbook, you have the option to add it to Passbook. You can flip through these apps — represented by virtual cards — with your fingertip to see each of the services inside Passbook and get them ready for when you need them. Or you can be notified when you step inside of a supported retailer or another location. Of if you need to know other information, such as a cancelled concert.

How to get going?

Passbook is already preinstalled on all iPhones, and if the app you download supports it, Passbook will likely ask you if that particular app can be added to your Passbook. Examples of supported apps include United Airlines, Target, Ticketmaster, Fandango, Walgreens, and Starbucks.

For example, to use the Starbucks app, follow these steps on your iPhone:

  1. Download the Starbucks app from the App Store.

  2. Sign up for the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program or sign in if you’re already a member.

    You’re prompted with this message: “Would you like to add your Starbucks card to your Passbook?”

  3. Tap Continue to add Starbucks to Passbook.

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    This message appears: “Choose your favorite stores, and your Starbucks card will appear on your lock screen when you arrive.”

    Let the phone’s GPS locate the nearest Starbucks and then you can select a few as favorites. When you’re done, you should see the Starbucks card pop up in your Passport — with a scannable QR code and cash balance of your account. You can now open up the Passbook app — or hold out your Apple Watch — to have the screen scanned by a barista at the cash register.