It's called the Apple Watch, and it looks like Elroy Jetson's latest star geometry projector. Apple finally announced their newest, highly anticipated gizmo on Tuesday, September 9th and according to industry "experts" (AKA the contributors of MacWorld.com, call them what you will) the "center of gravity of the shaky wearables market has shifted in a seismic reset," in regards to the announcement of the Apple Watch. The device can track your heart rate, calculate how many calories you've burned, pay for your McDonalds, and assist you in any orienteering endeavors. Apple's grand disclosure certainly didn't give away many details, as there was no information revealed revolving around the watch's specs, other than it won't have a camera and you'll still need to have your iPhone in your pocket to use it --- what exactly does this thing do again?
Apple zealots were quick to decree the smartwatch a traveler's best friend while on the go. Siri voice control will allow you to send iMessages to friends (which means more people screaming into their phones in public), and there will also be a new iTouch feature, which allows you to send customized emoticons and finger doodles, and even a visual representation of your heartbeat (????).
There will however be some travel-oriented apps that may prove useful in your travels, the American Airlines app, for one, allows you to view your itinerary and any travel updates, a BMW app helps you find where you parked (this works with BMW rental cars too!!), and Starwood Hotels will let you use your smartwatch to unlock your hotel room.
Perhaps the real excitement surrounding the Apple Watch is not the physical watch itself, but what's inside it, specifically Apply Pay, which may wind up being the biggest headline after all. Apple pay allows customers to make purchases in person using a Near Field Communication antenna in the device to link the customer's purchase to their credit card, debit card, or bank account. Even with Apple's myriad of believers, (including the three major US credit card companies, along with major retailers such as Nike, Walgreens, and Macy's) it's unclear if such technology will usher a paradigm shift in the payment landscape. Customer's are likely to be skeptical regarding the security of their financial information, especially after Apple had prominently overstated their security, which led to the leak of various celebrity nude photos and other sensitive information. Apple has had a known security flaw in its iCloud services for several months, which was fixed promptly after the leak occurred. Are you willing to take a chance storing your financial information on the Cloud? This writer certainly isn't, especially while traveling, when compromised financial info could strand you in the unknown without your money.
Apple's strength has always been in industrial design, and it seems as though the Apple Watch's biggest selling point could simply be its aesthetic appeal. Starting at $350, the Apple Watch sounds expensive, but when it comes down to its, its considerably cheaper than most designer watches. With a variety of different bands, sizes, and levels of luxury, will normal people opt to convert to smartwatches once and for all? On one hand, the "experts" think the focus on design and convenience will usher a sea-change in phone technology and ultimately, travel convenience. In our opinion, the problems the travel industry faces today don't necessarily revolve around a lack of wearable technology, but rather the continued inability to get passengers on a plane without initiating a stampede.
Based on the information relayed to the consumer via Apple's introduction of the Apple Watch, it appears to be a wearable personal communication device, activity-tracker, and smart-phone notifier that is directly linked with your pre-purchased iPhone. If you've decided your smartphone is enough to get you through your travel communication needs, you can easily utilize a Mifi rental through Auto Europe to have WiFi access wherever you may be, and still impress your fellow travelers with your tech savviness, sans bulky, useless, name-brand smartwatches.