Baseball ticket in Passbook being scanned in (CNET)

Nearly a month after launching its virtual wallet iPhone app, Passbook, Apple is preparing to put the feature to good use in its physical retail stores.

Later this month, Apple will be seeding an updated version of its mobile point-of-sale (EasyPay) system software to Apple Store employees. This update, numbered version 12.3, will allow retail employees with EasyPays to capture Apple Store payment card codes from customer iPhones and iPod touches running Passbook.

While Apple’s EasyPay software should be ready for Passbook this month, some sources noted that the current EasyPay hardware, at least at some retail stores, may not be capable of scanning iOS device displays. Presumably, Apple has a solution for this in the works.

Also, Apple’s plans for rolling out the consumer-facing Apple Store app update to support Passbook-based Apple Store cards is currently unclear. But with Apple preparing to seed software to its stores that interacts with Passbook on customer iPhones and iPod touches, we believe that the feature is close to being a rolled out.

We speculate that Apple could theoretically expand Apple Store-Passbook integration beyond cards. It seems likely that the Passbook location integration could be used to sign-in to Genius Bar appointments or to pickup items in service with the Genius Bar.

Apple currently allows customers to purchase items such as accessories via their iTunes accounts through the Apple Store iOS app’s EasyPay feature. The differentiator here is the higher limit for a gift card, so customers could pay for their new iPhones, iPads, iPods, or even Macs with their current iOS 6 mobile device via an Apple Store employee.

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