As predicted everywhere, Apple today unveiled its next-generation iPhone, with a screen that’s bigger (at 4 inches wide) than its predecessor, among other enhancements.
Announcements include three-dimensional maps, built in-house, and the making of Passbook as a native app, with airlines (like United and Delta) and hotels such as Sheraton included.
People hoping that Apple would make a surprise announcement related to travel at its keynote today will likely be disappointed.
The features on the iPhone 5 were anticipated by tech bloggers getting leaks from the company’s many partners.
WithÂ Google, Samsung, Microsoft,Â Nokia, and others device manufacturers on its tail, Apple’s iPhone 5 may not have enough new functions to keep ahead of competitors.
For instance, as a marketing decision, Apple decided to make the iPhone 5 is 20% lighter than its predecessor, rather than extend its battery life by, say, 20%.
It seems that battery life will continue to not to last a full vacation day, unlike the long-lasting Android-based Motorola Razr Maxx.
Here are key takeaways for travel tech fans from Apple CEO’s Tim Cook:
As previously announced, Apple’s iPhone 5 and other devices will have a fresh mapping program, built in-house, and replacing Google Maps and covering 100 million points of interest, according to the company.
Turn-by-turn directions spoken aloud are now standard.
When a user taps on the 3D icon, he or she gets taken into a flyover view, with many images generated by helicopter images, as Tnooz anticipated.
As Tnooz has reported, Passbook is front-and-center in the new iPhone.
Siri gets improvements
Much touted by the Cupertino company, Siri hasn’t lived up to many users’ expectations as a voice-driven personal assistant.
In the new update,Â Siri can be used to ask for directions and pose other questions, integrated with Apple’s new maps tool.
Siri is also debuting on the iPad and in more languages and countries.
Those partnerships with Yelp and OpenTable presage intriguing possibilities about partnerships with travel companies going down the line.
Getting Siri off the 3G network would help with data processing and improve its accuracy. A newÂ chip in the iPhone 5 supports a broader array of bands and frequencies, such as LTE, capable of delivering up to 100 megabytes per second.
Heads up to travel app developers: Liking of “apps” just got super-charged
The average customer has downloaded more than 100 apps.
Developers of travel apps will want to make sure it’s super easy (and strongly encouraged) of users to “like” their app via Facebook as it is being integrated with Apple’s online app store.
Customers using their devices to shop in the mobile version of the App Store will now be able to say they “like” particular apps in it.
That will be a powerful marketing tool, but some users of travel apps may need to be prompted to visit the store to click “like.”
No hints of iTravel
Many travelers rely on their smartphones as cameras. The iPhone 5 has a better camera, which can take pictures up to 23 megapixels in size.
Panorama mode will be built-in, which will compete with third-party apps that sepcialize in photo-stitching.
Apple’s old iPhones will still get loving care
Apple’s older phones will get a software upgrade on 19 September, too.
The new iOS6 operating system delivers the fresh mapping service and the built-in bond with Facebook, which is becoming a leading travel tool.
Disappointment regarding mobile payment
Many people in travel and other commerce-driven industries were hoping for new functionality to convert the iPhone into a virtual wallet and wireless payment tool.
But Apple didn’t announce any deals with travel companies or financial service or similar businesses.
The iPhone 5 won’t include a near-field communication (NFC) chip, which enables payment information to be transferred by tapping a the phone on a sensor.
About a million Android devices a day worldwide are issued with this NFC technology to process payments with a feature known as Google Wallet.
Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray told Forbes that Apple can sell up to 8 million of the new iPhone in its first week available.
A mini-iPad next?
The iPad accounts for 91% of tablet Web traffic, according to the company.
The iPad got short shrift in today’s announcement (with only reference to the new maps app working on iPads as well).Â But there are rumors of a separate announcement for the iPad product line in October.