When Apple introduced Passbook in iOS 6 they billed it as a way to store all your tickets, coupons, boarding passes, loyalty programs, and other cards all in one place. It's hard to imagine they expected that place to one day be Microsoft Wallet, but thanks to Windows Phone 8.1 that appears to be exactly what's happening.
Apple code-signs their Passbook cards, and it's not yet clear if Microsoft is simply accepting Apple certificates or accepting any pass regardless of whether it's signed or not.
Apple also provides a push-notification-based service to update cards, like gates numbers on boarding passes or balance info on Starbucks cards. Windows Phone probably can't hook into that system so, if updates are possible, there'd have to be some Microsoft-specific support from the supplier, or laborious polling process in place.
In a perfect world a system like Passbook would be universal and everyone could use and benefit from it no matter who manufactured their device or built their operating system. That's how we get standards and standards is how we get mass market adoption.
If there's no official agreement going on here, it's possible Apple would put a stop to Passbook support when they find out about it and if they can, technically or legally. If there's some form of cooperation going on, or some future agreement to be had, that could end up being the best solution for everyone, from the companies to Apple and Microsoft to us, the people who want these kinds of services made ubiquitous.
What about you — do you like the idea of Windows Phone 8.1 working with Passbook?
Rene Ritchie contributed to this story.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.