Passbook Pass Scanners

Aside from the API to use Passbook iOS6 in business, you’ll also need physical hardware to actually scan each pass that you provide for your customers.  This is because you need to validate/invalidate that the pass with the barcode your customer is presenting you at your point-of-sale is authentic, so proper equipment must be available at your outlet.

Passbook Pass Barcodes

Passbook passes can only contain 2D barcodes, which are different from the standard printed 1D ones.  2D barcodes can be read from a device, which works perfectly with Passbook since all passes are going to be digitalized.  Some examples of 2D barcodes we have tested with Passbook are:

  1. QR codes
  2. Aztec
  3. PDF417
The most widely used 2D barcodes today are QR codes.  Depending on the type of pass, some barcodes will be more superior over the other in terms of data capacity and barcode size.  A QR code tends to take up more room on a pass relative to a PDF417.   You can learn more about how QR codes and PDF417 barcodes differ under our blog posts.

Passbook and POS Systems

Most businesses who distribute cards, tickets, coupons, or passes already have a point-of-sale system in their businesses.  The barcodes that are present on these passes must be scanned by some device, in most cases a 1D or 2D scanner.  You must be aware that Passbook passes are in the form of 2D barcodes, so a 2D barcode scanner (some of which are installed in point-of-sale systems) are needed to read the information on those passes.  Many businesses wouldn’t need to invest in extra equipment to use Passbook as they already have 2D barcode scanners at their point-of-sale.

2D Barcode Scanner Apps

For businesses who are lacking in such equipment, there is no need to worry.  Your business wouldn’t have to invest in heavy and expensive infrastructure at all.  Since Passbook passes contain 2D barcodes, many simple camera applications (which can be downloaded for free at the app store) are equally competent in reading the barcodes.  If your business has an iPod Touch, iPhone, or any device with an application installed that scans 2D barcodes, then it will work.  Your Passbook barcode content can be read immediately.  However, be aware of PDF417 barcodes and scanners as they may require higher resolution scanners to actually read the information.  Read our blog post for more information.

Standard Barcode Scanners

Standard barcode scanners come with a USB or cable that is plugged into a computer or POS system.  All that these scanners contain is the scanner piece to read barcodes and a button users can press to scan.  There aren’t any fancy LCD screens or keyboard input on these devices.  In order to use them to validate or read barcodes, a program like Notepad or a custom application on the computer must be opened so that the message encoded in the barcode would appear on the computer or POS screen.  These barcode scanners have quick recognition features and are much cheaper than wireless barcode scanners.

Wireless Barcode Scanners

These types of scanners look like a large remote of some sort.  With an LCD screen placed on the top of the scanner, along with a keyboard and numeric input below it, and the scanning piece underneath the device, these wireless barcode scanners are very convenient and easy to use.  The fact that they are wireless allows for mobility and not having to stay connected to a computer of POS system.  Many of these scanners nowadays are even wi-fi enabled, so scanning a barcode that links to a website with the device will automatically take the user to the source and display it on the LCD screen.   Some drawbacks to using these scanners may include shorter battery life, slower barcode recognition than standard computer plug in scanners, and are more expensive.  Most wireless barcode scanners read both 1D and 2D barcodes, so it is important to double check before actually purchasing one.



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  8. by Teeker on October 7, 2012  1:58 am Reply

    Passbook use the QR codes,Aztec and PDF417. It means you need new type bar code reader for deleting the pass. If you need to buy new device, will you buy bar code reader for passbook?

    if you need to buy new device for deleting the pass of passbook, what's your solution ?

    • by Wendy on October 14, 2012  3:24 am Reply

      If you are talking about deleting a pass from Passbook itself, you can simply hit the trash icon that appears at the back of the pass. This is a built in feature of Passbook. If by deleting a pass you mean invalidating or scanning it for one time use, there are many kinds of 2D barcode scanners available on the market. Some are quite costly and may appear with the POS systems. You can also find free scanner apps on the iTunes store. PassKit is working on a free scanning app so stay tuned for when that will be out.

  9. by George on December 17, 2012  9:26 pm Reply

    I found a website that supports it to add 1D barcodes to Passbook but there are only a few US retailers in there it's mostly from the Netherlands and Belgium, that is too bad may be they will add more because it is possible to suggest retailers.

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