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Microsoft taps into Apple's Passbook, adds support in Windows Phone 8.1 [u]

post #1 of 52
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With Apple's Passbook quickly becoming the de facto way for developers to create digital tickets, store cards and passes, Microsoft capitalized on ways to strip the data from .pkpass files and recompile them on handsets running Windows Phone 8.1.


Passbook pass on Windows Phone 8.1. Screenshot via Tom Warren.


Microsoft's native support for Passbook files in the latest Windows Phone release was detailed on Monday by iMore, which showed off how Passbook files can be viewed in Microsoft Wallet with the new 8.1 software update.

The approach is noteworthy because Passbook was developed as an Apple-only platform for iPhone, allowing users to have access to digital wallet items in a convenient fashion. Passbook is not open source or an industry standard, meaning up until now it has not been officially available on other platforms.

But Microsoft's support for Passbook is actually baked in to Windows Phone 8.1, meaning any user running the latest version of the company's mobile operating system can access Passbook passes on their device without the need for additional software or hacks. This is possible because Passbook is based on simple, open structures that allow third-party developers to access some --?but not all --?of the data included in a .pkpass file.

It's possible that Apple could take steps to block Microsoft from reading Passbook files on Windows Phone. Years ago, Apple had an ongoing dispute with Palm, as the rival handset maker would trick Apple's iTunes into thinking a Palm device was an iPod, allowing users to sync music with their handset. In a back-and-forth battle, Palm continued to find new exploits, while Apple continued to patch them.

Windows Phone 8.1 was unveiled by Microsoft earlier this month, with the defining feature being a Siri-like voice-driven personal assistant dubbed "Cortana." At the time, Microsoft made no mention of its built-in support for Passbook files, making it something of a stealth feature added in by the Redmond, Wash., software giant.
post #2 of 52
Is this..legal? I'm assuming they have Apple's permission to do this?
post #3 of 52

Apple got it right and we want more support for this in world. Microsoft should pay Apple a license to allow Passbook on Windows Phone. The eight people that use it would appreciate it.

post #4 of 52

Does Apple receive any profits or benefits from this?

 

Apple should probably block Microsoft from using it, just like they blocked Palm some years ago, like it states in the article.

 

Apple probably wants it to remain an Apple exclusive only, so nobody else should be allowed to use Passbook. I don't really care about users of other platforms. Let them come up with their own inferior way of doing things.

post #5 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Is this..legal? I'm assuming they have Apple's permission to do this?

it's as legal as you created SlurpyPass which was a ZIP file with a JSON file, image assets, and signature inside*, The clever part of all these freely available technologies is how Apple packaged it to make a useful solution. Like iBeacons, which are just BT devices, there is nothing keeping others from creating their own tools for reading this data.

* As I learned recently from MR. I had thought it was HTML, CSS, and JS.

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post #6 of 52

MacRumors say it positive - like NO REVERSE ENGINEERING. But IT WAS ACCEPTED BY BOTH PARTIES.

http://www.macrumors.com/2014/04/14/windows-phone-8-1-passbook-passes/

post #7 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Does Apple receive any profits or benefits from this?

Apple should probably block Microsoft from using it, just like they blocked Palm some years ago, like it states in the article.

Apple probably wants it to remain an Apple exclusive only, so nobody else should be allowed to use Passbook. I don't really care about users of other platforms. Let them come up with their own inferior way of doing things.

Only Apple owns PassBook and can use PassBook since it's only on iOS 7-based devices. However, the pass information can be read by anyone that creates a reader for the open code within the open compressed file.

Unless Apple wants to create some locking mechanism to the compressed file (which I doubt otherwise they would have included this option from the start) that would have you input some sort of passcode locally but one that you would have had to set up on the website or app that is generating your passes.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Is this..legal? I'm assuming they have Apple's permission to do this?

 

Pretty sure it's legal.  No permission required to read the files.

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I have enough money to last the rest of my life. Unless I buy something. - Jackie Mason
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post #9 of 52
Oh cool! I'd let Microsoft do it. Because it won't matter. It's not worth the effort to block. Besides, people have reverse engineered Microsoft Office file formats all the time. It's not like this is unprecedented.

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post #10 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Years ago, Apple had an ongoing dispute with Palm, as the rival handset maker would trick Apple's iTunes into thinking a Palm device was an iPod, allowing users to sync music with their handset. In a back-and-forth battle, Palm continued to find new exploits, while Apple continued to patch them.

Lol.... thats awesome.  Never knew this happened.

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post #11 of 52
Think about all the users that will use it now that its compatible with Microsoft Systems. We can now use MS Office with Apples OS; next step, I.E.? iWorks for Windows? May be a bit far fetched; but collaboration has its benefits.
post #12 of 52
Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1: now with Apple passbook support.
post #13 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1: now with Apple passbook support.

And iMessage & Facetime.  Facetime now has Skype Support.

 

Those would make me happy- only because they would make Android sad.

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post #14 of 52
Better to have a common standard for this; Microsoft using the same file format is a good thing.

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post #15 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Better to have a common standard for this; Microsoft using the same file format is a good thing.

I agree with this. And really, is this Microsoft who was famous for NIH (not invented here) syndrome, adopting an Apple format this early in the game? I'm shocked! 1wink.gif

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post #16 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

I agree with this. And really, is this Microsoft who was famous for NIH (not invented here) syndrome, adopting an Apple format this early in the game? I'm shocked! 1wink.gif

It's not really adopting anything. It's just making a viewer for PassBook passes in the same way that OS X can view PDF, DOC, RTF, XLS and other file types. In no way is WinPh8 having to trick anything made by Apple into thinking that it's an Apple product, like with Palm's attempt to making it think their devices were iPods.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #17 of 52

This all seems insecure, shouldn't the Passbook 'payload' be encrypted?!  I would have to look at the technical specifics to learn more, anyone have a good overview link handy?  

post #18 of 52

Microsoft and Apple have long had extensive cross-licensing agreements, including in the mobile device arena. Thus there's far more reason to believe this development was a result of a collaborative effort rather than reverse engineering.

post #19 of 52
"In a back-and-forth battle, Palm continued to find new exploits, while Apple continued to patch them."

Actually, Apple made just one little change: iTunes now asks the device via a low-level USB query, "what company made you?" If the device replies with anything but "Apple", then iTunes aborts the sync. After Apple did that, Palm issued an update that made the Pre reply "I'm from Apple," then Palm and Apple each complained to the USB standards body that the other company should be made to stop doing what it was doing. The body ruled for Apple, and that was the end of all third-party attempts to sync with iTunes.

However, Apple did have a long, crack-and-patch battle with Real over their "Harmony" bypass of FairPlay %u2014 which eventually turned into a long lawsuit.
post #20 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



Years ago, Apple had an ongoing dispute with Palm, as the rival handset maker would trick Apple's iTunes into thinking a Palm device was an iPod, allowing users to sync music with their handset. In a back-and-forth battle, Palm continued to find new exploits, while Apple continued to patch them.



Lol.... thats awesome.  Never knew this happened.


 



What was great about that one is that the USB forum put the smack down on palm for spoofing USB IDs which was in direct conflict with the standard.
post #21 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post
 

This all seems insecure, shouldn't the Passbook 'payload' be encrypted?!  I would have to look at the technical specifics to learn more, anyone have a good overview link handy?  

 

I guess that depends. Take airline tickets. They wouldn't need to put anything in the passbook files that isn't already in the emails you would normally get. Gift cards and things that it would matter usually come via a secured connection to an application. The data shouldn't need to be secured in the format handed by the app to passbook if it was secure getting to the app and secure in the passbook storage. Encrypting them would actually be a challenge given the various sources of the content. Signatures and validating the source would be a much better thing so you don't get spoofed content coming into your wallet/passbook.

post #22 of 52
This always has been Microsoft's secret to success. Reverse engineer Apple's IP. 1biggrin.gif Hopefully this time Apple said it was OK.
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post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

In no way is WinPh8 having to trick anything made by Apple into thinking that it's an Apple product, like with Palm's attempt to making it think their devices were iPods.

I wasn't suggesting anything of that nature. How did you get that from my post? I know it is about adopting Apple's file format.

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post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

I wasn't suggesting anything of that nature. How did you get that from my post? I know it is about adopting Apple's file format.

My bad. I thought your implication was that MS was sidestepping Apple's IP in much the same way it tried to add a YouTube video app without paying Google for the privilege.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #25 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

I guess that depends. Take airline tickets. They wouldn't need to put anything in the passbook files that isn't already in the emails you would normally get. Gift cards and things that it would matter usually come via a secured connection to an application. The data shouldn't need to be secured in the format handed by the app to passbook if it was secure getting to the app and secure in the passbook storage. Encrypting them would actually be a challenge given the various sources of the content. Signatures and validating the source would be a much better thing so you don't get spoofed content coming into your wallet/passbook.

I can see a couple ways Apple could implement this.

The first being a secured compressed file format which would means that you need to setup or being given a passcode/PIN by the app or website giving you the PassCode pass. Once you receive the pass you are prompted.

The other is Apple creates their own compressed file format with security that can use a token that can then be shared to the app or website when they package and send you your PassBook passes. When you receive your PassBook app would not need any additional authentication.

The final method is simply using the same system they have now but having all of them go through Apple's servers, not via email, with AES much like iMessages are secured on a per-device basis.

In each of these I see way too much trouble for the effort and since PassBook passes aren't going to be a profit center for Apple in and of themselves I don't think we'll hear a word from Apple.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #26 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


In no way is WinPh8 having to trick anything made by Apple into thinking that it's an Apple product, like with Palm's attempt to making it think their devices were iPods.

WinPh8? It's usually spelled WP8, or in this case WP8.1

post #27 of 52
I guess this is as legal as Apple (and every other WP software maker on earth) reverse-engineering Word's .doc document format for their products. Unlike .docx MS never published the specs for .doc, it was a purely proprietary file format that had to be reverse-engineered by competitors if they wanted to stay in business.

At the end of the day as long as MS can prove they did a completely clean reverse-engineering job (no ex-Apple employees, internals documentation or other sources of inside knowledge, etc.) on the Passbook format they should be okay legally.
post #28 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emes View Post

WinPh8? It's usually spelled WP8, or in this case WP8.1

I'm a rebel? 1hmm.gif

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

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post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

And iMessage & Facetime.  Facetime now has Skype Support.

Those would make me happy- only because they would make Android sad.

Oh yes. Apple should "share" this tech with MS just to say "eff off" to Android.
post #30 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I'm a rebel? 1hmm.gif

I suppose you are

post #31 of 52
There's no reverse engineering here, Apple publishes all the specs in their _public_ site, doesn't even need a developer account.

I'm sure if they wanted to keep this secret or proprietary they would not have used this format, for example they'd have it encrypted instead of just signed.

Some wallet apps on Android have also been able to use .pkpass files for a long time, the only new thing is it being integrated into the OS.
post #32 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post
 

This all seems insecure, shouldn't the Passbook 'payload' be encrypted?!  I would have to look at the technical specifics to learn more, anyone have a good overview link handy?  

 

Just like websites and email, you encrypt the transport not the payload.

post #33 of 52
Nothing different than iWork apps opening MS Office files.

This is good news. It will lead to greater adoption of Passbook.
post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarelRex View Post

"In a back-and-forth battle, Palm continued to find new exploits, while Apple continued to patch them."

Actually, Apple made just one little change: iTunes now asks the device via a low-level USB query, "what company made you?" If the device replies with anything but "Apple", then iTunes aborts the sync. After Apple did that, Palm issued an update that made the Pre reply "I'm from Apple," then Palm and Apple each complained to the USB standards body that the other company should be made to stop doing what it was doing. The body ruled for Apple, and that was the end of all third-party attempts to sync with iTunes.

However, Apple did have a long, crack-and-patch battle with Real over their "Harmony" bypass of FairPlay %u2014 which eventually turned into a long lawsuit.

 

Just to be clear, anyone could fairly easily develop an app that syncs a device with an iTunes library (minus FairPlay), using iTunes to sync a device has been pretty well locked down.

post #35 of 52

I see this as a potentially good thing, if it gets more support for Passbook.

post #36 of 52

Yes; even back when Palm was trying to do this, Apple had a feature in iTunes called "Export Library" that creates an XML file containing detailed information about your entire music collection, playlists, file locations on your hard drive, etc. Anybody who wants to write an app that will read that XML file can do so. Palm didn't want to write their own app -- they wanted people to download iTunes for free from Apple, then use it with the Palm Pre phone.

post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

I agree with this. And really, is this Microsoft who was famous for NIH (not invented here) syndrome, adopting an Apple format this early in the game? I'm shocked! 1wink.gif

Microsoft is well known for its "embrace and extend" method of capturing, changing, and then ruining open standards so that they're Microsoft-only "standards". Not invented here syndrome is more Apple than Microsoft (have you seen the mice? Granted, changing iOS to look like android and windows metro was really a crazy reversal of this).

Yes, it would be nice to see only one standard here, but it's always a throw of the dice to see how all the players let it shake out over time. Corporate entities like free stuff, because it saves them development costs, and they love pro-reverse-engineering-for-compatibility law, but they hate obedience to any authority that's not themselves and they hate customers having choices beyond the one they present to customers.
post #38 of 52

A while back it was revealed during the first samsung/apple court case that Microsoft and Apple agreed to a patent cross-licensing agreement with anti-cloning stipulations (that microsoft would not copy apples hardware) this may be part of that agreement.

 

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/08/13/apple-has-licensed-ios-design-patents-to-microsoft-agreement-bans-cloning/

post #39 of 52

Could be a mutual agreement with MS adding MS Office to the App store. "You let us sell Office in your store and we both profit, and you let us use Passbook and some of your other technology in WinMo phones and we'll give it a wider audience, make more businesses want to use it, and piss of Android users/Google/Samsung."

 

Not like MS and Apple have never worked together in the past.

post #40 of 52
Quote:
 Apple got it right and we want more support for this in world. Microsoft should pay Apple a license to allow Passbook on Windows Phone. The eight people that use it would appreciate it.

 

Is that why it's called Windows Phone 8?

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