Apple Watch is here. The device has begun to ship and a lucky few — namely celebrities — are already showing off their wrists.
Travel startup Polarsteps, which we covered here, is one of the first smaller startups to invest resources into the emerging next-gen timepiece.
The live travel tracking that the company offers is actually a perfect fit for the Apple Watch's strengths. Being able to quickly log a location, which is then placed instantly into the travel timeline, is a handy feature.
Similar to the way the Watch tracks steps, Polarsteps on Apple Watch will tie that into the traveler's overall statistics.
That makes what Polarsteps does even more useful, quick and easy. In the announcement, it's very clear that one tap on the watch face will log location for the traveler, making this an ideal use case for the Apple Watch in travel — assuming that tracking is your thing.
However, the question is whether the price point of the Watch will be too high to garner much use among travelers in more dangerous or rugged destinations.
It's not like you can easily hide your Apple Watch in a bag or pocket like you might be able to do with a smartphone.
While it is a bit harder to remove a watch from someone's wrist then pocket or bag, adding an Apple Watch to your traveling uniform certainly makes you more of a target. It screams "I've also got a smartphone in my pocket or bag!"
Like any new gadget with heavy buzz, time will tell how the world uses it. We're eager to see the Watch out in the world and if any of the grand proclamations about a true connected era of seamless travel emerge thanks to the fuel of these devices.
Polarsteps co-founder Koen Droste responding to a few of our burning questions via e-mail.
Why did you choose to invest resources in an Apple Watch app?
We decided to build Polarsteps because of our own need for an easy and beautiful travel log that would help keep friends and family at home up to date.
From the beginning, we've been investigating smart ways to leverage all the technology that travelers carry with them nowadays, so taking advantage of the new possibilities that the Apple Watch brings is an obvious step in our quest to make logging and sharing your travels as easy as possible.
The Apple Watch has been getting lots of press, specifically related to the use case for mobility/travel. Why do you think the Apple Watch is a good fit in travel?
I think that one of the main innovations the Apple Watch brings, is the ability to quickly give the user relevant information based on his current need. To determine what this current information need of a user is, you need contextual information about the user.
Location is one of the most useful types of contextual information, because when a user changes location, his information need usually also changes significantly.
From that perspective it’s logical that the Apple Watch is often linked to mobility/travel, as that involves frequent location changes (and thus, frequent points in time where a new need for information can be determined by an app).
Specific to Polarsteps, how does the Apple Watch fit into your overall roadmap?
Our mission is to help travellers plan, track and remember their trips. The features of our current Apple Watch app are (just like our beta site and iPhone app) mainly focused on the tracking part.
Next steps on our roadmap are about making the tracking part even better, and adding more planning and remembering capabilities.
Our roadmap should eventually lead to a platform that fully unlocks the potential of mobile and wearable technologies that travelers carry with them, and there we see a lot of added value in the Apple Watch.
Where do you see this going in the next 2-3 years?
I think the current Apple Watch can be compared with the first iPhone, in that it is just a beginning and the true innovations will come in the following years when both the device as well as the app ecosystem become more mature.
Currently you see a lot of apps that use the watch as just an extra screen — for example, a news app sending a push notification on your watch for breaking news. I think those are not the type of applications that will make a real impact in peoples lives.
The real innovation will come from apps that are able to give the user relevant information based on his current context (e.g. his location) and other data available.
In the case of Polarsteps, that would for example be something like telling a traveller that he needs to leave now if he wants to arrive at his next destination before dark.