By its very nature, travel depends on motion, on moving forward and being mobile in ways that past generations never anticipated. Think mobile technology. And in 2015, look for tech-savvy travelers to tap the power of new smartphone apps to do everything from buying a latte to unlocking hotel room doors.
Check out a few mobile travel trends already in motion or set to move into play later this year. Apps are available for Android and iOS unless otherwise noted.
Swipe and enter
Hilton and Starwood hotels are making it possible to use smartphones as keys to a good night’s sleep. In November, Starwood – owner of Westin, Sheraton and W hotel chains – began upgrading 30,000 rooms in nearly 150 hotels to be accessible with its new app. With the Starwood app, a guest can check in and get their room number, then enter his room using a code sent to his smartphone. No more waiting in long check-in lines.
Hilton’s app, which is still under development, will function similarly. By the end of 2015, users of Hilton’s HHonors should able to use their smartphone unlock their rooms in any of the chain’s U.S. locations.
As ride-hailing apps Uber, Flywheel and Lyft made inroads in 2014 with more people signing on as both drivers and passengers, the inevitable concerns about passenger safety surfaced. AsterRide, also a ride-sharing app, added an InstaAlert and GPS tracking feature that notifies a passenger’s family and friends that he’s in a taxi and when the passenger has arrived safely at his destination.
Another new security app, React Mobile, offers peace of mind by allowing users to create lists of emergency contacts who can be notified if something unforeseen happens. We all hope danger never strikes, but if it does React Mobile users can simply tap once to notify its contacts of his GPS coordinates.
Swipe and pay
While not yet a complete replacement for the debit card, apps like Apple Pay (iOS) and Google Wallet (Android) will continue to make it easier for people to buy things by swiping their smartphones at checkout stands. Both apps allow people to use their debit and some credit cards securely by keeping account numbers and other information invisible during transactions.
Turn the dreaded airport layover into a pleasant experience using LoungeBuddy. The simple-to-use app can help a stranded traveler find a place for a quick shower as well as find work space or that coveted unlimited Wi-Fi connection. As its name suggests, LoungeBuddy also acts as a resource to find pay-as-you-go lounges in more than 500 airports. Search by price and amenities or use it to find out which lounges offer free cocktails.
Keep the world at your fingertips by ensuring the security of your smartphone as well as the information you hold most useful and dear. Lookout helps travelers look out for the safety of their smartphones by scanning downloads for viruses and malware. If a phone is lost or stolen, Lookout lets you track it or remotely wipe it clean.
What’s your favorite apps for 2015?