In response to the sad news of Steve Jobs’s passing, the Internet has been inundated with write-ups about the iconic innovator. I spotted one article in particular that provides an interesting commentary from a traveler’s perspective: How Steve Jobs Helped Make Apple Become a Major Disruptor in Travel, by Kevin May.
May tells how Apple shook up the industry by pressuring travel brands to develop mobile apps and mobile-friendly versions of their products. He writes, “What Apple has given consumers is a new means to experience travel — not the actual going away bit, but how they research products, interact with brands, use devices in-resort.” We’ve published lists of trip-transforming travel apps that were, a decade ago, just a twinkle in Jobs’s eye. That awesome ATM finder or the currency conversion app you can’t globetrot without wouldn’t exist if Jobs hadn’t dreamed up the interface for it.
This probably isn’t exactly news to the tech-savvy traveler. Actually, considering the renown of Jobs and his inventions, nor is it news to the technophobe traveler who prints his itinerary on a typewriter. But here’s the exciting part: The biggest and best fruits of Apple may be still to come. Writes May, “For the best part of 18 months, Apple has been busily filing technology patents in the U.S. for essentially what is a series of tools for handheld devices, known as iTravel. These range from search and booking and location information tools, to hotel and airport concierges and cruise trip services.”
Picture this: You arrive at the airport, skip the check-in queue and head straight for security. Your passport and driver’s license are at home in a desk drawer. You don’t need to stand in line to get your boarding pass because it’s already on your iPhone, ready to be scanned — along with your hotel reservations, your itinerary and even your electronic identification. Patently Apple published a summary of a patent filed by Apple in 2010 that would allow travelers to accomplish just this. The patent even foretells the possibility of airport security checkpoints that use “automatic identity verification,” such as facial recognition technology or retina scans coupled with electronic ID’s stored on handheld devices, to speed travelers through security.
It’s exciting, inspiring stuff. Jobs may be gone, but he lives on through his technology, and through the already incalculable impact he’s had on the way we travel.
— written by Caroline Costello