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Hey Siri – How will iOS 13 impact travel?

I don’t know about you but I’m still dabbing my head with a handkerchief and fanning my eyes after witnessing the ‘By Innovation Only’ Apple event last night. An always-on display Apple Watch, new iPads, Apple TV+ at just $4.99, and 3 new iPhones… phew, I’m still adjusting my collar this morning.

In fact, it was so packed with hit after hit that the biggest star of the show barely got anytime onstage yesterday: iOS 13. Yes, the brand new version of the iPhone operating system is coming next week and I know I say this every year (and maybe Steve Jobs said it a few times too) but this really does ‘change everything’.

Siri, what’s new for travel?

"Here is what I found on the web"

Siri is going to make travelers a whole lot happier next week. Shortcuts, which debuted last year, is now going to come pre-installed on iPhones with iOS 13, so expect to see a few million more added to its already huge 500 million monthly users tally.

Users of Shortcuts (new and old) will also see a much simpler UI when adding phrases to Siri, but it’s the built-in automation that’s going to change the game for the much-maligned Apple assistant. This functionality will enable travelers to set up rules and triggers using events (time of day, alarms), travel (when I arrive, before I leave, as I get into my car) and other actions (when I connect to wi-fi, switch on airplane mode).

Plus with support for third party actions and conversational shortcuts, every travel brand is going to be thinking #VoiceFirst in 2019. Imagine arriving at Edinburgh airport and sharing your flight status in your favourite airline app without even unlocking your phone.


Apple is also releasing brand new APIs to enable even tighter integration with Siri, with new INReservation intents. Check-in reminders, gate, and terminal pushes and even directions to the gate in Apple Maps, are all coming to Siri.

Even better is the fact that these new reservation intents will be available for hotel, car rental and train companies too. On that note, expect a big reveal next week from American Airlines, who have spent all summer working in Cupertino on donating actions in their app. 

Siri actions

“Siri, make my next trip seamless” may just become the most used phrase in travel over the next year if we’re lucky.

Location, Location, Location!

One of the biggest impacts to travel will come with new location tracking guidelines and messaging. Not only is Apple giving more control back to travelers, it is also releasing new triggers involving geo fencing not seen since the heady iBeacon days of 2015!

                                              TripIt Location Tracking


Apple is making some big changes in the way travelers share (and control) their location data. Gone will be the days when a travel brand can just ask for ‘always allow’ in location prompts because new temporary permissions are being brought in with ‘Allow Once’.

Plus ‘Don’t Allow’ will prevent a brand from ever asking a location question again. So unless travel brands are showing value in the ‘when and why they are asking for location data’ explanation, expect to see a huge spike in that ‘Don’t’ choice come next week. 

Add that to the fact that a new map UI (showing where a brand has actually tracked your location over the last few weeks) will appear in these prompts, and you can already imagine that travel marketing departments are in frantic copywriting mode right now looking to justify the 'why'. Note: Look and learn from TripIt above.

Remember Lockscreen App Launchers?

iOS aficionados will remember these from iOS 8; this time however Apple is taking it up a notch with new push notifications sent when a traveler enters a specified beacon range. ‘Welcome to EDI’ as you enter the airport doors or ‘open up generic airline app to book fast track’ as you walk towards a packed security zone. You can imagine the travel use cases swirling around already.


Image source

A Catalyst For Change... to iPad apps!

Apple may not be merging macOS and iOS* (*yet) but with TripIt and American Airlines (again) all set to release their iPad apps into macOS we cannot underestimate the impact of Project Catalyst for our industry in the next few months. Great iPad travel apps are about to find a whole new audience, a 100 million monthly active new audience in fact. 

iPad apps on mac WWDCTravel brands like TripIt and American Airlines are already releasing their iPad apps for macOS. Source: WWDC 2019

With 40 frameworks and libraries being ported from iOS to macOS, UIKit integration and new Mac specific functionality (context menus, hover events and more), it’s time for the travel industry to start getting interested in developing tablet apps again. 

A whole new look. On a whole new level.

Dark Mode will finally (FINALLY!) appear next week but it’s the other iOS 13 changes under the hood that are going to have the biggest impact.

iOS 13

Image source

This blog isn’t long enough to detail them all but just scratching the travel surface...

  • Apple Pay in Quick Look: Apple’s augmented reality functionality in Safari search is now complete with Apple Pay integration. With users who try the ‘view in room’ AR feature on Wayfair product pages ‘3.4x more likely to buy them’ statistic being thrown around at WWDC19, airlines will be rubbing their hands at the thought of seat upgrades selling themselves. Especially if a traveler is searching extra legroom on the web at the gate

  • Sign in with Apple: Move over Facebook and Google, there is a new social sign in player in town and this one doesn’t track you! With signing in and creating accounts being one of the last friction points left in travel, expect this everywhere by the end of 2019.

  • Look Around: Imagine airport maps plus AR (with signage, directions and distance) overlays. Well imagine no more as ‘Look Around’ is coming to iOS13 (soon, not next week). Initially this is limited to the US and select locations but with over 70 airports mapped worldwide I wouldn’t bet against this being available in your favourite airport app soon, very soon!

We haven’t even mentioned Voice Control, independent watch apps, app deletion metrics, Core NFC (more read tags!), individual app language changes, Reality Kit and many more things. So, to answer our first question: How will iOS 13 impact travel brands? The answer is HUGE! 

View our resources to keep up with the latest news and insights in mobile travel.


Glenville Morris, Product Director - Digital Insights

Glenville has over 12 years experience as a digital & mobile professional in the travel, entertainment & retail sectors. Prior to joining Travelport Digital Glenville worked at easyJet across analytics, mobile marketing & was the product owner for easyJet mobile. At Travelport Digital Glenville heads up the Digital Insights team looking at market trends, operating system updates and how new mobile technologies will affect the travel industry.

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