Book Image

Instant Passbook App Development for iOS How-to

By : Keith D. Moon
Book Image

Instant Passbook App Development for iOS How-to

By: Keith D. Moon

Overview of this book

With iOS 6, Apple introduced the Passbook app as a central digital wallet for all the store cards, coupons, boarding passes, and event tickets that have become a popular feature of apps. The passes in Passbook can be tied to relevant locations and times, providing additional visibility for your brand or service. Instant Passbook App Development for iOS How-to is a step-by-step walkthrough of how to create, customize, deliver, and update a pass for Passbook, the newest and most exciting iOS 6 feature. With sample code and clear instructions you will be guided through the process and helped to avoid the pitfalls. Instant Passbook App Development for iOS How-to helps you understand Apple's Passbook feature, leading you through creating and distributing your first pass. Clear step-by-step instructions, along with sample code and resources, will get you up and running so you can integrate Passbook into your app or service. With this book you will learn how to create, customize, sign, deliver, and update your Passbook pass, with the help of sample code and clear instructions.
Table of Contents (7 chapters)

Updating a Pass within the Passbook app (Advanced)

Apple provides a mechanism for updating a Pass that has been added to Passbook by a user. This process involves sending a push notification to the user's device, and implementing a REST API that will respond to the device's requests and provide the relevant updated Pass information.

Getting ready

The first stage in updating a Pass is to send a Push Notification to the user's device to prompt the Pass update process. The process for sending Apple Push Notifications (APNs) is outside the scope for this book, and the assumption will made that the facility to send the appropriate APN is available. Further information on APNs can be found in Apple's documentation:

In implementing the required REST API, we will be making use of the GIT source control management tool. If you don't already have GIT installed and setup, follow the GitHub tutorial:

How to do it…

  1. Open Terminal and change the directory to the directory that is to contain the server code.

  2. We will be using the open source example Passbook server built in Ruby on Rails by Mattt Thompson (, so we first need to clone the server code from the repository, with the following command:

    git clone
  3. You will need to install Xcode command-line tools, you can do this by opening Xcode and on the menu, going to Xcode | Preferences | Download and clicking on Install next to Command Line Tools.

  4. Change to the directory containing the code and prepare the Ruby App:

    cd passbook_rails_example
  5. If you get an error related to Postgres, use the following command to install it separately and run the bundle command again. (This command will require administrator access.)

    sudo env ARCHFLAGS="-arch x86_64" gem install pg
  6. Depending on the version of Ruby installed, you may have an extra command to enter. Mountain Lion comes bundled with Ruby 1.8.7 and will require the extra command, but if you have updated to version 1.9.2 or greater, then the following command is not required. (Administration access will be required.):

    sudo gem installrdoc-data
    sudo rdoc-data --install
  7. Open [path to server code]/db/seeds.rb in a text editor. The content in this file will be used to populate the database initially, therefore replace the example data with details that match your previously created Pass, ensure that the pass type identifier and serial number are correct, but change at least one part of the Pass data. In the following example, I have changed Peter Brooke's job title from Chief Pass Creator, to CTO.

    pass = Passbook::Pass.create(pass_type_identifier: "", serial_number: "0000001", authentication_token: "UniqueAuthTokenABCD1234") = {
      staffName: "Peter Brooke",
      telephoneExt: "9779",
      jobTitle: "CTO",
      managersName: "Paul Bailey",
      managersExt: "9673",
      expiryDate: "2013-12-31T00:00-23:59"
    pass.registrations.create(device_library_identifier: "123456789", push_token: "00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000")
  8. In the seeds.rb file, specify a unique authentication token for each Pass you add. in the preceding example UniqueAuthTokenABCD1234 is used, although this would be automatically generated in a real-world use.

  9. Deploying this server code to the free Heroku service is the quickest and easiest way to make it available for testing. Visit and sign up for an account.

  10. Download and install the HerokuToolbelt for OSX:

  11. Open Terminal and log in to Heroku. Then create a new Heroku App and push the server code to it. Heroku will generate a name for your App; for example

    heroku create
    git push heroku master
    heroku run rake db:createdb:migratedb:seed
  12. For the Passes we have previously created to update using the server, we need to include the relevant information in the Pass. (In the following code sample, note that the sample web server has the additional path component of passbook in the webServiceURL.) Open the pass.json previously created and add two top-level keys with the relevant values, reproduce the manifest.json, reproduce the signature file, and re-zip the package files.

    "authenticationToken" : "UniqueAuthTokenABCD1234",
    "webServiceURL" : "",

How it works…

The server we have implemented above is to facilitate the Pass update process, which involves back and forth communication between the user's device and your server.

When a user adds a Pass to Passbook that contains webServiceURL and authenticationToken keys, the device registers with your server, passing a device library ID that is used to authenticate further communication, the authentication token to authenticate this initial communication, and a push token to be used when sending an APN.

When information contained in the Pass changes, in our example this may be Peter Brooke being promoted, your server sends an APN to the device, using the push token it received. (The sending of this push notification is outside the scope of this book.) This prompts the device to ask your server for a list of all the updated Passes since it last asked. From this list, the device asks for updated information for each of the Passes in turn. Finally, the server responds with the updated Pass information and the updated Pass is presented to the user.

There's more…

Further information on the Pass update process can be found in the Apple documentation:

There is also a full specification for the REST API that the server above implements:

When testing the web service endpoints in a browser, it is necessary to include the following request header in addition to any authorization header described in the specification:

Accept: application/json

In a live production setting, the web service must use HTTPS, however you can allow Passbook on your device to use HTTP for development testing. If your device has been enabled for development using Xcode, you will have an additional Developer section under the app settings. In the Developer section, under PassKit Testing, switch on Allow HTTP Services: