Although I covered many of the newest features of Windows Phone 8.1 in my review earlier today, I apparently missed one. In my defense, Microsoft hasn’t announced it. It’s only because of The Verge’s Tom Warren that we know about Windows Phone 8.1 working with Apple’s Passbook files. Warren tweeted out the following on Monday morning, showing that he has a boarding pass in his phone’s Microsoft Wallet app.
iMore’s Rene Ritchie expanded on the topic, suggesting that Microsoft is using Apple’s Passbook file format to create the files in Windows Phone 8.1. That’s likely true because it’s pretty easy to find the Passbook data file structure: A quick web search turned up all of the information, including a detailed PDF file, needed to build a specific Passbook file for a boarding pass, coupon, or loyalty code. Ritchie said that Apple code-signs the files, so it’s not clear how Microsoft is dealing with this aspect, possibly just accepting any files in Wallet whether they’re signed or not.
Regardless of whether Microsoft’s implementation is simply a test or not — Windows Phone 8.1 is in developer preview — there have already been Android apps that do the same. Passbook for Android reads .pkpass files, which are zipped Passbook data bits, to do exactly the same thing. And it’s not the only one available for Android.
I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment to see if using Apple’s Passbook file structure is a long-term strategy for Windows Phone or if this is just a one-off test in the developer preview, and will update this post accordingly with any response.