Google just announced some new application programming interfaces (APIs) as part of Google Play Services for Android developers. One of them is for providing location information but uses much less battery power than traditional mobile device geo-services. Another is for geo-fencing which involves detecting when a user enters a pre-specified geo-location (an airport, a hotel, a conference center, etc.). And the third is for activity recognition which determines whether a user is driving, walking or cycling. All of these capabilities sound exciting in their own right, but what do they mean for travel app users on the day of travel? What new features could benefit me as a traveler?
First, if I’m driving to an airport and my app detects that I’m within a mile of it, and couples this information with the fact I have a flight departing in the next few hours, perhaps it could push me current airport parking status. It would be great to know my options in terms of cost and current availability of different parking structures just before I arrive so I don’t get stuck being redirected to long-term parking and risk missing my flight.
Another great benefit would be detecting where I am in the airport in relation to the departure gate for my flight and the time my flight is expected to depart. If my flight is supposed to depart in 10 minutes from a gate that’s on the other side of the terminal, I would love to receive an alert telling me to get a move on it and head towards the gate!
Sometimes I end up sitting at an airport in ‘waiting mode’ – that is, I’ve arrived early or my flight has been delayed and I have little to do. When this is the case, receiving offers on my mobile device for food and gifts from restaurants and shops within the airport would be appealing. But there are other times when I’m racing through an airport, at record-breaking speeds to make a connecting flight. In the latter case, I have absolutely no interest in any offers from anyone. If my app could recognize when I’m meandering around an airport, at walking speed, and show me interesting offers from airport vendors but skip them when I’m racing from gate to gate, I would be most appreciative!
Any other ideas you have for how your travel mobile app can help you with the new information Google’s APIs provide? We’d love to hear any practical or off-the-wall ideas in the comments section!