It’s been about eight months since Apple’s Passbook app made its debut on the iPhone—and like many of you, I’m guessing, I opened Passbook exactly once, looked at it for about 30 seconds, and promptly forgot about it.

But after a recent (and quasi-accidental) Passbook-assisted trip to the movies, my interest is suddenly piqued.

Passbook, as you may recall, is basically a digital wallet that lets you store concert tickets, coupons, loyalty cards, boarding passes, and more, all in a single iPhone app.

List of Passbook apps on iPhone

The list of Passbook-friendly apps is limited, but (slowly) growing.

Well, not all your tickets and coupons, unfortunately. One of the biggest limitations of Passbook is that it only works with Passbook-supported iPhone apps, of which there were only 10 or so when Passbook launched last fall.

The Passbook app situation has improved somewhat in the past several months; there are now more than 30 Passbook-friendly apps, ranging from American Airlines and United to Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.

Still, I hadn’t bothered to fiddle with Passbook again until just a few days ago, as my wife and I were heading to the movies.

We’d decided to stop for coffee and I figured I’d go ahead and buy the tickets (for “Before Midnight”—loved it, but whoa) while we were sitting at the counter.

iPhone Passbook banner

Have a movie ticket stored in Passbook? When you approach the theater, a banner will appear on your iPhone’s screen; just swipe it to access your tickets.

I opened the Fandango movie app, bought our tickets, and was about to slip my iPhone back in my pocket when I noticed an “Add this ticket to Passbook” button. What the heck, I figured.

I tapped the button, opened Passbook (you’ll find the Passbook app on one of your iPhone home screens, provided you’ve updated your handset to the latest iOS 6 software), and a digital ticket for our movie slid into view, complete with theater details and a QR code.

So far, so good—but I was even more impressed when a banner that read “Fandango: Nearby” flashed on my iPhone’s lock screen as we arrived at the theater.

iPhone Passbook card details

Tap the little “i” in the bottom corner of a Passbook card to see details and notification settings for your ticket or coupon.

Approaching the box office, I swiped the Fandango banner on my iPhone, and our tickets appeared on the screen.

The usher pulled out a handheld scanner, “dinged” the QR code on my iPhone’s display, and that was that. Easy.

Now, just to be clear, you can’t buy tickets at every movie theater with Fandango—and for that matter, Passbook won’t do you much good if you’re shopping at Walmart (although Target has a Passbook-ready app), nor will it help with daily deals at Rite Aid (but Walgreens is a go).

That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly and efficiently Passbook works when it’s in its element—and indeed, I used Passbook again a couple of days later for another movie night (“Star Trek Into Darkness”—loud, lots of punching).

So, got questions about Passbook, or a Passbook story you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Bonus tips

  • You can change the notification settings for your individual Passbook items by tapping the little “i” icon in the bottom corner of the digital card.
  • The settings screen also displays the venue’s location, as well as instructions on how to redeem your ticket or coupon.
  • Also: Want to see the current list of Passbook-compatible apps? Just open Passbook, then tap the “Apps for Passbook” button on the Welcome card.

Looking for more iPhone tips? Click here!