Aiming for Practicality
While the advertisements looked slick, and the feature is fun to play with, I'm yet to find anyone who lets Siri run their life for them. That was the stand-out feature of the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 launch, as Apple maintained the look of the phone and only upgraded the internals.
While the iPhone 5 will feature a new, bigger, screen and many other tweaks at its unveiling this week, many are starting to get bored of the whole feature creep and bloat "advances" in smartphones. However, Passbook on iOS 6 could be the app that really makes some progress and sells the phone (as well as whichever previous models Apple decides it will be compatible with).
Yes, Google has been pushing NFC and wallets for some time, and Microsoft has high hopes for similar features in Windows Phone 8, but overall, digital wallets seem to have had a limited push so far. If Apple makes a concerted effort, and achieves a high degree of user interaction and positive reaction, then all rivals will really be pushing the feature, and it could make smartphones worth talking about again.
Replacing the Wallet?
While any sane person should be a little nervous about adding all their various account details to a digital wallet, if Apple manages the process well enough, and security is both manageable and Fort Knox standard, then it could be onto a real winner.
On the security side, Apple has announced the acquisition of AuthenTec, a company that specializes in fingerprint recognition technology, which could help secure the app against fraudulent use, enable secure NFC, all done quickly and easily.
Passbook could popularize the digital wallet
With simple tasks like cinema and store loyalty cards all managed from the one place, Passbook could become something that offers an everyday benefit to huge numbers of users. Regular travellers will really appreciate that airlines and train companies are already up and running on the beta, suggesting the ecosystem for the app will be running from day one.
With that, the new maps app and other features in iOS 6.0, whatever the new phone looks like, it could well be the little bits of software that help sell this year's model.