Apple WWDC 2017 Technologies That Matter To Travellers

WWDC 2017 Art

Apple used its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote to discuss new technologies that would be unveiled when new versions of tvOS, watchOS, macOS and iOS are in users’ hands in the Fall.


Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM are the some of the key players in the consumer and business software space. Experience The Skies covered Google’s own developer conference dubbed I/O 2017 back in May (News). This time is Apple Inc which scheduled its annual WWDC for June 5-9, 2017 and moved to San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California.

The keynote started with a fun video entitled the “Appoclaypse” which showed what would happen if mobile applications disappear from all the phones in the world. The video set up the theme of the keynote which heavily focused on mobile applications and their APIs.

While tvOS, watchOS and macOS each has some updates and enhancements, iOS was the platform that got the most attention in the presentation.


iOS 11

Introduced in July 2008 with only 300 applications, Apple’s iOS app store has grown to more than 2.2 million applications and generated over US$70 billion revenue for developers to date.

Apple iOS Platform - Number of Applications Since Launch
Apple iOS Platform – Number of Applications Since Launch     Source: Apple Inc.

Experience The Skies noted the following seven key features from iOS 11 that will improve the travel experience:

  1. Airport and Mall Layouts – Maps will include layouts for selected malls and airports around the world. While both are important to travellers, the latter would be especially useful to those visiting a new city and are not familiar with the airport layout. Airlines and airport operators would benefit by using this feature instead of installing third party solutions. In addition, those that employ Apple’s iBeacon technology (Insight) can integrate their solutions to track passenger flow and provide travellers with updated wait time information at key points (e.g. check in, security and customs lanes).
    Apple iOS 11 Maps - Airport Layout
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Airport Layout   Source: Apple Inc.

    36 worldwide airports are participating in the program’s first rollout phase. They include airports located in Canada, China, Netherlands, Qatar, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States:

    Apple Maps Airport Layout Location
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Airport Layout Locations     Source: Apple Inc.
  2. Lane Guidance – Drivers will be given new lane guidance in Maps that will help them avoid missing a turn or an exit. Additionally, speed limit of the road will be shown.
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 - Lane Guidance
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Lane Guidance      Source: Apple
  3. Siri – Not only will Apple’s digital assistant have better sounding voices, it will be able to translate English into five languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish). This would be useful for travellers asking for directions, buying tickets or ordering food in a foreign place. Using voice instead of typing will greatly reduce time.
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 - Siri Language Translation
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Siri Language Translation      Source: Apple Inc
  4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Working with Siri, Apple’s internet browser will be able to contextual predict using artificial intelligence searches that are more relevant to users. This would improve efficiency and ease of integrating items into different applications (e.g. adding calendar information based on interaction on a travel site).  Privacy is maintained as end to end encryption is employed. This feature will compete with popular itinerary storage applications like TripCase and TripIt.
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 - Safari / Siri Integration
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Safari / Siri Integration      Source: Apple Inc.
  5. iMessage – The proprietary messaging platform will add cash transfer option so family members, co-workers and friends can request and send/receive money without leaving the application. All amounts collected can be used for Apple Pay purchases or transferred into a designated bank account. Authentication is completed using the Apple Touch ID.
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 - iMessage Payment
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – iMessage User Payment Transfer     Source: Apple Inc.
  6. Augmented Reality (AR) – Apple is creating a new API for developers to create augmented reality environments (made popular by the free-to-play game Pokémon Go developed by Niantic. There are many use cases for this technology such as a. New entertainment options for passengers travelling on different types of transportation, b. wayfinding can be improved with an additional layer of content and c. airlines can use this technology to create new training scenarios to aid passengers.
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 - Augmented Reality
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Augmented Reality       Source: Apple Inc. and Niantic
  7. Do Not Disturb – National Safety Council reported that 1 in 4 car accidents in the US is caused by texting and driving.  Apple decided to create a Do Not Disturb feature within its notification system so that drivers would not be distracted. This might add a layer of safety for both drivers and passengers of car transport service like Uber or Lyft.
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 - Do Not Disturb
    Apple 2017 WWDC iOS 11 – Do Not Disturb     Source: Apple



Apple introduced its first home speaker system dubbed the HomePod. Available at first in the US, UK and Australia, the new entertainment option is 6.8 inches high (172 mm) x 5.6 inches wide (142 mm) and weighs 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg). Coming in two colours, the speaker is packed with a subwoofer with custom amplifier and seven horn-loaded tweeters combined to produce clear sounds adapted by detecting room dimensions.
HomePod will also be interact with i-devices through AirPlay 2, HomeKit and Siri. The latter is important as users can direct commands or questions that will aid travels. These commands are in the following areas:

HomePod Commands
HomePod Commands Source: Apple

In particular, weather, reminders, traffic & nearby and alarms & timers  can be especially useful.  For a traveller, updated weather information can make packing easier. Car pickups can be notified by reminders. For those that are driving, traffic information can determine whether to leave the door earlier or later. Alarms & timers would be vital to ensure a traveller would not miss a flight or meeting.


Hidden iOS 11 Features

The 2017 WWDC keynote included many iOS 11 features that would be useful for anyone going on a short trip to grandma’s or travelling across the globe to Asia for the first time. However, there were also other ones that did not get the spotlight. In the next post, Experience The Skies will take a look at ten hidden iOS 11 features that would make traveller’s lives better.


Beta Program and Device Eligibility

iOS 11 is currently in beta and is available for developers or users who used their Apple ID to sign up to the program.


Apple Beta Program Sign Up
Apple Beta Program Sign Up      Source: Apple Inc.


Supported Devices

The following is a list of devices that support iOS 11 Beta.


  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s


  • iPad (9.7-inch)
  • iPad Pro (9.7-inch)
  • iPad Pro (12.9-inch)
  • 2017 iPad Pro (12.9-inch)
  • 2017 iPad Pro (10.5-inch)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 2
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air

iPod touch

  • iPod touch 6th generation


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