The Apple Watch is one of the hottest new devices in consumer tech, and it’s affecting every industry — including the travel sector.
Several companies have been jumping on board with Apple to create apps and services that cater to busy travellers. There are apps that will allow you to unlock your hotel room with a simple swipe of your watch, apps that will ping you when there’s a flight delay or gate change, and apps that will give you step-by-step directions to help you navigate a new city.
Though not all of these Apple Watch apps are perfect, they have already made major strides toward changing the way we travel.
At the airport
Several airlines have already begun offering versions of their mobile apps for the Apple Watch that give travellers real-time gate information, delays, and check in capabilities. So far, Delta, American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, AirCanada, SAS, and easyJet have Apple Watch apps for the airport, with most coming in a variety of languages including English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
The majority of the apps already have access to Passbook, so you can directly download your boarding pass on your watch and get through the airport quicker. You will have to remove the watch to go through security, though.
These apps can also tell you about any gate changes or delays. And rather than having to open up your phone to see the status of your flight, you’ll get a light tap on your wrist if there are any changes made to your flight.
Besides the basics of when and where your flight will be, you can also check what the weather is in your current destination, if there are any delays at baggage, and real-time currency exchange rates.
One feature that the easyJet app has that others don’t so far is social capability, allowing users to post to Instagram and Facebook straight through the watch.
Having access to transportation information is crucial when you travel.
Companies like Uber and Hailo have already created apps for the Apple Watch that allow users to hail cars through their watch. And when your driver arrives, the watch will buzz, ensuring that you won’t miss him or her. The one downside with the Uber capability is the lack of a built-in GPS to help guide your driver.
The watch comes in handy for accessing public transit, too. There are several apps that guide users through public transportation systems. Citymapper, which operates in New York, San Francisco, Singapore, and more cities, shows the fastest routes, can give step-by-step directions to the nearest bus or train, and lists when the next three arrivals will be. Plus, when you get to where you need to be, you’ll be notified with the tap.
Transit is another transportation app which operates in North America and lets users get real-time information on nearly every form of transportation, including the bus, subway, bike shares, Uber, and car2go.
Thanks to Starwood’s partnership with the Apple Watch, guests at more than 150 hotels including W, Aloft, and Element can use their watches to unlock their rooms. Not only is this easier, but it also helps avoid losing room keys.
The app also offers directions to the hotel and allows guests to check in and view their balance.
Currently, more than 30,000 Starwood hotel rooms already have the capability and the InterContinental Hotel Group is looking to get on board with developing their own version of an app.
Marriott has an app for the Apple Watch that allows you to check in straight from your watch and get a notification when your room is ready, so you don’t have to wait in the lobby. Plus, you can pay using Apple Pay, which scans and stores your credit card information so you can make payments straight from the device.
When you’re in a new area
You can access recommendation platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor on your phone, but what makes the Apple Watch a good travel tool is the new real-time capabilities being packed into these applications.
Besides being able to see reviews, ratings, and photos like you normally could on your phone or your computer, the TripAdvisor app on the Apple Watch has a new feature called Glances, where you’ll get real-time updates based on nearby points of interest when you’re moving and at the time of the day. So, for example, if you happen to be near a top lunch destination, the app automatically finds the highest-rated restaurants to suit that time of day. You can also save your favourites.
Foursquare offers a similar feature that gives you tips on places you pass.
OpenTable‘s app allows you to book your reservation, get reminders on your watch for them, and it has a countdown interface to ensure you make it there on time. It can also notify you when you happen to be near places that offer ApplePay..
To communicate with locals
When it comes to language tools, the Apple Watch can make it seem like you have a personal translator on hand.
IHG Translator, for example, you can speak directly into the watch to get a quick translation when talking to someone who speaks another language. If you don’t want to speak into the watch, you can check their range of most commonly searched phrases, with options in 13 different languages.
One of the most interesting features is on Babbel, which detects your location and shows you new words that relate to where you’re at. So, if you’re at or near a restaurant, you’ll get food related terms. When you’re near an airport, you’ll get flight related terms. That way, you can nail basics in the manner of a few minutes.
These apps are great whether you travel or not. If you decide to order anything from food to groceries to supplies, the Postmates app on the Apple Watch has real-time tracking on a map. You can also rate and tip your delivery driver directly through the watch.
Efficiency plays into Fetch too. This buying app searches the best prices and coupon codes for everything from hotels to flowers. The best feature about it though is that you can simply tell Siri what you’d like to buy and the app will pull up the top results, without you having to go through the pesky search process. You can even directly book your purchase too. It’s also like a personal concierge. You can literally ask it almost anything for real-time answers, from requesting a delivery of a product to asking what the best wine pairing would be for a meal.
For social media
The watch gives you a smaller, more compact way to access social networks like Twitter and Instagram. The watch is actually big enough for comfortable viewing of Twitter and Instagram feeds, but the one drawback is you don’t have a camera.
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