has made another mammoth announcement today, releasing a new iPhone, payment system and wristwatch. Here are some off-the-cuff (pun intended) implications for travel.
The most talked about - and agreed upon - gossip prior to this rollout was that there would be a larger screen on the iPhone 6, including an even larger screen on an iPhone 6 variation. We've found out today that Apple will call it the iPhone 6 Plus, and will come in at 5.5 inches.
Contrast is higher, text is sharper, colors are deeper - these all have applications for travel, insofar as it again increases the resolution available to captivate audience around a specific travel product.
Updated landscape view
The updated screen sizing has given Apple the opportunity to update its landscape view for the iPhone 6 Plus.
The extra real estate allows for a 2-column view that will offer travel startups and companies the ability to deliver more information via mobile. Here you can image a list of available flights, with the specifics populated on the right side column. This would finally make booking via mobile a much easier task, given the ability to select favorites, monitor changes and to compare different results.
Phase detection and updated camera
Tone mapping and noise reduction are also added to the mix, allowing for increased creativity and a contiunation of the iPhone as a primary camera. This means that travel apps can continue to take advantage of the increased capacity of pictures, and then porting them across platforms.
Given the larger resolutions, and the phase detection that creates a more rapid and invisble auto-focus, travel will be enhanced by higher-quality user generated imagery. In addition, single-shot HDR allows for a simpler way of increasing visibility on both the foreground and background at the same time.
Video is also seeing an upgrade, with full 1080p processing and a neat 240 frames-per-second feature for slow motion capture. This is the kind of feature that could be handily leveraged by a clever travel brand in a crafty marketing message.
Low light utility has also been enhanced with better video processing and an 80% increase in light from the f2.2 aperture, and the optical stabilization means that even the handheld nature of the mobile video can be dealt with. This is another opportunity for increased creativity and features within journaling-style apps for travel.
Beyond hardware, the update to iOS 8 will be a bonanza for travel apps looking to increase the means of engagement with users. From the ability to add location to a message, to predictive keyboard improvements, to touchID enabled app logins, there are plenty of features that will be rolled quickly into travel apps.
Notification Extensions is also an interesting way to engage with iOS users. Rather than simply showing a text update, a more full-featured informational display can be provided to the user.
This means that flights could come with short maps, or an update on a plane's position could be accompanied by an actual image of the plane's location.
Finally, the long-discussed health features are to be rolled into iOS 8. The ability to track fitness via the everyday mobile device allows travel brands - especially hotels, for example - to encourage movement and fitness by the health integrations.
iOS 8 is out on September 17th for device download and iPhone 6 pre-orders begin on September 12.
Replacing the wallet
Tim Cook is upfront with the Apple audacious vision, saying "our vision is to replace" the wallet. He quotes the 200 million US transactions for debit and credit card payments, and how it is antiquated given our current technology.
For travel, this update means a far more seamless means of payment for ongoing transactions - something especially interesting for last-minute and spontaneous transactions such as tours and activities.
So what's Apple's vision for the mobile wallet?
- Focusing on the user experience, rather than the straightforward self-interest of the company: "This is what Apple does best," says Tim Cook.
- It's called Apple Pay.
- Using TouchID, a consumer places a phone in front of a sensor and then the register recognizes the payment. The TouchID functionality is what ensures that the phone's owner is the only one that uses the phone.
- NFC is what drives the transaction data, alongside TouchID and the Secure Element.
- Multiple cards can be stores in Passbook, which can be added from iTunes.
- Device-only account number is used, rather than the actual number, to protect it from theft - there's no way to steal the actual number if the device is lost.
- When a transaction is made, a one-time code is used to protect that transaction and separate it completely.
- Mastercard, Visa, and American Express are on board, as are the main issuing banks.
For non-POS transactions, this still is appealing (for example, the T&A use case form above), as it allows a verified user to purchase a product without having to use a card.
Apple is eager to get a chunk of the billions spent online with one-touch checkout, using the same structure as above with the one-time code created by the Secure Element. This means that security extends to online transactions, and not just POS purchases.
Uber, OpenTable, and Groupon are three of the launch partners, with an open API available to integrate Apple Pay into apps next month.
OpenTable will allow users to pay for their check right from the table; Groupon will allow tours and deals to be purchased directly in-app, and Uber will allow rides to be requested and paid for using Apple Pay.
This also increases the importance of Passbook as a centralized place for all personal information for an iOS user, something not to look over when considering an in-app Passbook integration.
One more thing
Yes, the Apple Watch. Not the iWatch, mind you, the Apple Watch - just like Apple Pay.
Tim Cook spoke much about how this was a very customizable product, and includes a just-for-watch interface. The "Digital Crown" is the dial on the side that allows wearers to interact with the watch in a more natural way without blocking the content on the watch.
This is an interesting choice, as the pinch/zoom gesture would have covered the full face of the watch. It makes complete sense to use the age-old crown as the way to interact - and also make the digital experience comfortingly analog.
The implications here will be similar to the way that Google Glass experiments have shown different ways to engage with travel.
The same small screen limitations will lead to similar information cards being used by travel apps to deliver necessary information to the Apple Watch - here Apple is calling them "Glimpses." Functionality like calling a car, changing a pickup time, or adjusting/tracking location are all potential use cases here.
Basically, most things that Google Glass is useful for would be useful here (big exceptions being taking pictures, photos and having a heads-up display in front of the eye).
Design cues come from newly-acquired Beats, with the watchband looking like the way the Beats earcups band sits on the head. Another interface addition is taptic feedback, which allows apps to engage subtle vibrations to complement the app's experience.
In the map use case above, soft vibrations will tell the wearer where to turn while walking through a city.
Other travel features come from American Airlines, which will allow check-in and boarding via the Watch, and Starwood, which is rolling out door unlocking via the Watch very soon. These sorts of integrations will make this a must-have device, something that no other device maker could hope to achieve at such a fast pace.
The crowd reaction - and the internet's response - suggests that this watch could be the fastest selling product in Apple's history - if not the world. Not to mention that Apple Watch is already inclusive of Apple Pay - meaning users can pay using only a watch.
What else did we miss as far as travel implications of these new products by Apple?