updated 12:01 pm EDT, Tue July 10, 2012
Could tie into rumored NFC iPhone plans
Apple has won the rights to a US patent on its "iTravel" concept, notes AppleInsider. Technically listed as System and Method for Transportation Check-In, the patent nevertheless revolves around an app which lets people handle ticketing and ID tasks on an iPhone. "The handheld device may store and transmit travel reservations and traveler identifications using a travel management application," Apple writes.
Reservations could be made directly through the proposed app, and data could be extracted from email, websites, carrier confirmation numbers, and more notably, NFC (near-field communications) technology. An iPhone could, for instance, be used to scan an RFID tag in a passport. ID data could also be fetched via download after entering in a user ID number.
The patent may have special significance in a couple of ways. The iTravel app has more than a passing resemblance to Passbook, a new app being integrated into iOS 6. Although Passbook is more limited in some ways, it will nevertheless give iOS a central place to store scannable tickets and coupons for airlines, railways, entertainment, and retail shopping.
Apple could, however, be planning more for Passbook than it has already announced if hints of NFC efforts bear out. The company has been rumored as bringing NFC to the iPhone for sometime, and Apple sometimes holds back announcements of iOS features until it can unveil the hardware to support them. Both iOS 6 and a new iPhone are expected to ship in the fall.