Key Ring an Alternative to Passbook

When Apple's iOS Passbook was announced I knew Apple had another hit on their hands. Being able to slim down your inch think wallet by getting rid of your reward cards, membership cards and gift cards would be wonderful. Too bad the reality didn't match the promise. To me Passbook is one of those applications with great potential but just doesn't match the hype. Don't get me wrong I love the idea of Passbook I just think that right now, the better digital wallet is Key Ring.

Key Ring is an iOS app that allows you to ditch all the paper and plastic and store all your rewards cards, coupons, membership cards and gift cards digitally. Unlike Passbook, you can easily scan your existing barcodes and add them to your key ring with a minimum of a hassle. You also can set it up to receive digital coupons from your favorite retailers and automatically add points to your reward cards. But the main feature for me is Key Ring's ability to store any type of card that you want to digitize.


First a clarification; Passbook will allow you to add your own card but it's difficult. You need to visit one of several web sites, register with them and then hope the vendor you want is listed.

Most of the sites are also geared toward merchants, not to the customer. PassSource, PassTools are two of the better sites so give them a try. The biggest drawback is that Apple's Passbook application only allows you to use only 2D types of barcodes (Aztec, BDF417 & QR). If you have a membership card with a numeric or alpha numeric barcode you are out of luck. So what the heck does that mean you ask?

Open your wallet and pull out one of your loyalty cards or a coupon. If the barcode is just a bunch of lines then it's either a numeric or alpha numeric barcode. If the barcode looks like a bunch of squares jumbled together then it's a 2D Barcode.

If you are interested you can read more about barcodes here.

So let's use an example from real life. The Seattle area, where I live, is currently rated number 2 in the country as the most literate cities in the US. One of the factors for literacy is the number and usage of libraries. Like a lot of families, everyone in my family has their own library card and can put books on hold. That means that when someone stops by the library to pick up books they need to know every card number and PIN for every member of the family. Rather than copy each card or write down the numbers use Key Ring.

Open the app and from the main menu select "Add Card." Lay your card in front of you and scan the barcode

You can now enter in details about your card. Choose "Select a Retailer" & Key Ring will give you a choice of Loyalty Card, Gift Card or unknown. Choose the card type and scroll through the provided list and select your card vendor. In the case of my King County Library System (KCLS) card I choose unknown for the card type then choose "Other Retailer Not Listed" from the provided list. I input "KCLS" For my title and under description input "library".

If for some reason you need to need to edit the barcode you can. You can rescan your existing card or just edit the number. If you know it, you can even change the barcode type and choose to hide beginning and trailing digits. 

Because I happen to know that KCLS uses codabar with a mod 10 check digit I made sure that "codabar" was selected in the list and the first and last digits were hidden.  More then likely you wont need to do this step. But it's nice to know you can if you must.

Once you are done with any edits you can hit the save button and you are finished. 

The rest of the app is very straight forward. There are tips for how to make sure your newly created card will scan correctly, registration for backing up all your cards and even an "offers" list for online bonuses and sales. 

If you are like me and your wallet is thick with extra cards and you want to ditch the extra weight, then this app is a godsend. It will allow you to quickly store all your data in one location for fast access and safe storage, and you will never again forget your cards at home (unless you forget your phone). Give it a try and let me know what you think.


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