From travel tickets to Airbnb, the $8 trillion travel industry is already a digital industry, and Apple’s iOS 13 will accelerate its transformation.
How iOS 13 changes the travel industry
If all you do is watch the WWDC 2019 keynote and State of the Union address you’ll get an inkling of how Apple’s new technologies may accelerate industry transformation.
If you managed to watch some of the developer sessions, then you are probably already imagining how you may build products to surf the change.
[ Further reading: The wireless road warrior’s essential guide ]
Here are some of the ways Apple will continue to drive change in this industry.
Don’t forget your Apple Watch
Apple’s smallest computer, Apple Watch becomes independent later this year.
That means users will be able to download mini-city guides, access informative podcasts and get more detailed Apple Maps directly to their device (no iPhone required). This also means travellers will be able to stay in contact using Wi-Fi and the computer on their wrist.
Beacons support makes it possible for tourist offices, hotels and anyone else in the tourism value chain to create useful content to draw travellers to new experiences, while existing features such as Wallet and Apple Pay enable seamless travel and tourism experience management.
Beacons were going to transform everything. They didn’t, but the potential remains.
iOS 13 will be a little more receptive to these, enabling travellers to choose to receive beacon-generated notifications as they explore new places.
The IATA 2018 Global Passenger Survey claims most passengers want to be kept informed about their journey, with flight status (82%), baggage (49%) and security/immigration waiting times (46%) the top three priorities.
Also, please don’t forget those pre-WWDC rumors Apple plans a Tile-like device– given what we now know about how it will be possible to locate your lost Macs using Bluetooth beacon-like support, how much easier will it become to find your luggage at the airport?
Perhaps you’ll be alerted if you accidentally leave it behind.
Then there’s NFC
If you are a hotel, place of interest, gallery, museum or retailer, are you offering travellers/shoppers guidance around your location using NFC tags?
If you are, do you provide multilingual translations of the information you provide? If you don’t, then perhaps you will soon choose to create your own NFC tags/stickers using an iPhone, iOS 13 and Launch Center Pro?
Then consider how travellers can put some cash into their now Apple Pay-compatible Revolut card in order to pay for public transport using iPhones/Watch/NFC without accruing punitive currency exchange charges.
Then there’s NFC (again)
Apple’s NFC implementation also means it will be easier to sign up for retailer loyalty schemes, and also means you’ll be able to carry your hotel, airport lounge, and other forms of identification virtually in your Wallet.
Plus, you know, your iPhone/Watch may become your car hire or hotel room key.
I guess it’s possible that eventually all any traveller will need to carry with them is their Apple Watch in order to access almost every feature on this list.
Apple has added new layers of automation to Siri Shortcuts.
These will make it much easier to quickly create your own Shortcuts, but Apple has also introduced new APIs that will be relevant to companies in the travel and tourism space: INReservation intents, for example, mean Siri will be able to handle and pass reservation information through apps.
Siri’s enhanced functionality will also make the travel experience better:
“This will enable travellers to set up rules and triggers using events (alarms, time of day), location and other actions,” Glenville Morris of Travelport Digital wrote. “Every brand will be thinking Voice First,” he added.
Get to the gate
Apple Maps is in a state of accelerated evolution. U.S. iOS users will enjoy far more detailed maps when the operating systems ship in Fall, with other nations expected to see their own maps improvements in 2020.
These aren’t cosmetic changes – features such as Look Around and enhanced information cards will benefit travellers and service providers alike.
Apple has also confirmed that Maps will work with Wallet (presumably using INReservation) to alert travellers to the need to check-in, gate and terminal changes, and even provide directions to the correct gate using airport maps.
Now imagine these tools being used to get you to your hire car, guide you round your hotel, or to the appropriate train platform.
Speaking of Look Around, does anyone else think it would look great if you were wearing AR glasses?
Think about that, because the fact that this new Maps feature supports labels describing local places and attractions within the 3D view should be seen as a red alert for people in the travel industry to make certain they’ve optimized any information they share with Maps.
When it comes to maps, businesses must ask themselves: Are our listings up-to-date? Have we optimized our local search results for voice search?
Then there are useful AR apps, such as Clydesdale Bank’s B Currency, which converts currencies using the camera on your iPhone. And what about airlines offering seat upgrades in AR, or hotels showing you exactly what to expect in your room?
Business Chat in Maps
Are you open for business? If a traveller wants to contact you, are you going to force them to endure a complex discussion between people who don’t necessarily speak the same language, or will you make like a little easier by supporting more multilingual Business Chat?
The model is pretty simple: A traveller in a new town comes across a place of business they think they might be able to use, they explore the business listing card in Maps and find a phone number – but wouldn’t it be easier to let them make contact using Messages in Business Chat?
Apple’s new Business Chat Suggest tool inside iOS 13 will show users the option to Message a business when they tap the number, if it is available.
Apps for Macs
Apple’s decision to make it much easier to port apps from iPads to Macs will pay big dividends to companies in the travel and tourism industry, who will now be able to quickly port existing apps to 100 million Mac users.
That’s everything from hotel and reservation services to travel guides and more. (Tripit and American Airlines were both mentioned as porting their apps to Macs during a WWDC session).
This won't be a magic bullet. Every business may need to improve those apps a little bit, if they want to see them used - Mac users are highly resistant to second-rate apps.
Hey Siri, how do you say “Where’s the airport” in Hindi?
Apple continues to increase the number of languages Siri can translate for you.
Right now it can translate from English, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Italian and French into other languages (the number of languages varies). iOS 13 adds Vietnames, Thai and (I think) Hindi to the list.
While translations aren’t instant in real-time, they should help most travellers put together simple requests.
Apple is also beefing-up enterprise security.
Sign-In with Apple means travellers won’t need to share location with marketing firms, while enhanced MDM support and things like data separation between enterprise and user data mean confidential data carried on devices belonging to both business and consumer travellers will be better protected.
This and anti-phishing alerts, intelligent Wi-Fi and Bluetooth privacy protection and a much more transparent acknowledgment of what location data apps collect about travellers will also help secure these experiences.
Up in the air
All of these improvements build on what’s already available.
Wallet is already your airline ticket; you can already get apps for most tasks and many airport loyalty schemes (including the one at London’s Heathrow Airport) already offer virtual member’s cards via Wallet on your iPhone.
It’s not quite perfect yet, of course, and it seems pretty clear that airlines will need to improve their in-flight entertainment integration with iPhones and iPads as Apple customers become more committed to Apple TV+ video streaming services – particularly as many airline staff now use iPads for passenger management and air crew for flight manuals.
The industry is transforming. iOS 13 accelerates that change.