Today Apple announced updates to its iPhone operating system (iOS 6).

In its latest version, Apple has added a new app named Passbook that comes preloaded on the device and cannot be removed or deleted. The app acts as a central location for consumers to store their tickets, loyalty cards, coupons, passes, etc.

Here’s how Apple describes Passbook:

Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place—like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon. And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal.

Pretty cool, right?

Imagine that as a consumer approaches a movie theater a notification pops up on their iPhone with their movie ticket(s) ready to be scanned. Or as a consumer enters a store a coupon pops up on their iPhone ready to be redeemed.

What does Passbook mean for small businesses?

This new app may not have an immediate, direct impact on small businesses today, as current partners include big brands like Starbucks, Amtrak, United Airlines, Target, Fandango, and the W Hotel.

But small businesses should rest assured that we’ll be keeping a close eye on how things develop with the new app.

Passbook looks to be a huge win for small businesses as a means to deliver digital connections quickly and efficiently to current and potential consumers of their businesses. We know that mobile is only becoming more and more important and that no business can afford to ignore it. According to a recent study from Nielsen, 49.6% of the U.S. adult population now own smartphones, up from 36% a year ago.

At Constant Contact, we’re already thinking about how Passbook can go to work for our small business customers—to help them leverage what could be a game-changing mobile technology. Our customers have tons of content worth sharing through Passbook. And our goal is to help them do just that.

Imagine being able to engage with consumers in real time—at the right time, in the right place, and on the right device. Keep reading our blog to hear more!

What do you think of Apple’s Passbook app? How could your small business use this technology?