Apple Watch Applications
April 24 is the release date of the much anticipated Apple Watch. Many aviation related applications for airlines and airports have been approved and included in the Apple App Store. Experience The Skies explores the first version of these applications and discuss what future developments lie ahead to improve the passenger experience.
Apple Watch is the first wearable product introduced by the Cupertino, California based company. It comes in two organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen sizes : 38mm (1.5in) or 42mm (1.65in).
Both sizes comes in three different models: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition each separated by different bands, case finishes and glass variations. Check out the short video below on how it looks and functions:
The watches will require an iPhone 5 and above with iOS 8.2 installed for connectivity purposes. They come with a custom chip design and have a battery life of 18 hours under normal usage. The last part is important as travellers can be on flights more than 16 hours in length (refer to our post on the world’s longest flight) where charging opportunities may not always be available.
Top 7 Things Apple Watch can do for a Traveller Today
1. Notification – With access to the Passbook(R) application, all boarding passes stored will have notification enabled to receive information on check ins, delays, boarding gate and upgrade information.
2. Communication – Travellers can communicate with others using various messaging tools or telephony function when paired with a bluetooth headset.
3. Siri – It’s easy to give Siri a command to check/store information (such as weather, time and notes to self).
4. GPS – With interaction with map applications, travellers can get direction information without taking out their phone or tablet.
5. Payment – The watch includes a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip which can be use as part of the Apple Pay solution. Some of the usual airport vendors (for the US) that accepts this payment system are: McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Coca Cola vending machines.
6. Boarding and Check in – The NFC chip can also be used to board a flight and open the hotel room lock.
7. Time – Timezones and jetlag can be managed with selective time and health applications
An updated list of airlines and airport vendors can be found in this link. The first airline to have this seamless integration implemented is JetBlue Airways. Passengers can use Apple Pay for on board food items starting in March 2015 on transcontinental service followed by systemwide availability by June 2015 (refer to this link for more information).
Airline and Airport Related Applications
Experience The Skies scans through the Apple App Store and noted the following have been updated with new Apple Watch functionalities:
1. App in the Air (Free) (iTunes preview link) – This app can be used as a personal flying assistant and keep track of flight information and have handy information on airport tips ad navigation maps.
The following airlines communicated they will have an Apple Watch application in time for the April 24, 2015 launch:
Other applications that are useful for travellers:
Travelling Booking (Expedia)
Hotel (SPG: Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Marriott Hotels International)
Airport and Navigation (Citymapper,TransitApp, TripAdvisor)
Finance (Mint Personal Finance)
Communication (Instagram, Twitter, WeChat)
Here is a list of functions Experience The Skies would like to see in future application developments for the Apple Watch:
1. Better integration with iBeacon technology to assist travellers navigating around airports (i.e. finding gates and restaurants – similar to what KLM is offering on its app).
2. Better communication integration between communication and airline apps. If there is a delay, designated parties (e.g. loved ones, car service or hotels) can be communicated in real time. This can shorten frustrations when other parties are not notified on irregular operations.
3. Better payment system integration across different modes of transportation network to ease time and congestion
4. Better notification systems to handoff a passenger for a seamless travel experience (e.g. once you land, the watch can welcome you can tell you where to collect your bags and direct you to the car service. Your hotels would communicate on room availability and your calendar can manage appointments).
5. Better integration with luggage manufacturers to charge iPhone and watch wirelessly.
Apple Watch will bring a new level of fascination with wearables. Travellers can interact with different applications without taking out their phones, tablets or computers. This might increase convenience. In a future post, we will check other wearable products that is can benefit travellers.