Does Apple Watch mean anything for travelers?

Yesterday, there was an interesting article from Stephanie Rosenbloom at the New York Times on the Apple Watch; not because of what it says, but in how it frames it: through what it could mean for travelers.

I’m an unabashed technology nerd; if I can figure out any way to positively integrate a gadget in my life, I’ll be among the first ones lining up for it. And to be honest, I’ll be right there on day one for the Apple Watch. But between this article and Apple showing two travel-related demos (Starwood and American Airlines) at their event yesterday, clearly many people are thinking how this will revolutionize travel. Me? I’m not so sure.

Maybe that plays into my feelings on smartwatches in general. I kickstarted what most people consider to be the first modern smartwatch, the Pebble, but it sat unused for long periods of time. Recently, I’ve been wearing it for its newly-gained pedometer features, but I find myself looking for constant excuses to not wear it. Not because I don’t find it somewhat useful (I kind of do), but because I don’t like the look and feel of it on my wrist.

The Apple Watch will solve for the look and feel problems: it comes with higher-quality bands and (almost) universally-praised appearance. As I mentioned before: I’m getting it; I’m sold enough on what it does. But does it make sense for those people who aren’t early technology adopters? Will it have an actual impact on travelers and traveling?

My doubts are why I’ve been confused about the emphasis on what the Apple Watch and smart watches in general will have on travel: it offers lot’s of conveniences, but no killer features. The Starwood demo for unlocking your room with your watch? It can (and will) be possible on your iPhone, as well. AA gate information and boarding pass on your wrist? It’s been in my pocket on my phone for years now. Both of these features are convenient and just plain cool, but do they warrant another gadget to keep charged and carry around, when I already have a smart phone that can do all those things and much more?

The Apple Watch will be huge and somewhere down the line, someone may think of a killer travel feature for it. In our world of smart phones in your pocket, having a computer strapped to your wrist will be handy. But revolutionary? We’re still a ways away from that.

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