Why Apple Watch is a business traveler's best friend

A recent trip from Boston to San Francisco with the Apple Watch as a personal assistant demonstrates that smartwatches can be valuable tools for busy businesspeople and frequent travelers.

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Wheels down with Apple Watch

When I landed in San Francisco, I again used Swarm to check-in, and a TripIt notification on my wrist quickly informed me that my baggage would arrive at Baggage Claim A. The Marriott app also informed me via Apple Watch that my room at the Marriott Marquis was ready for me, even though it was a full four hours before the official check-in time. (I don't know how I ever lived without mobile check-in.)

I grabbed my bag and hopped into a cab that was equipped with an NFC payment terminal, though I couldn't use Apple Pay because it doesn't support Amex Corporate credit cards. (I've used Apple Pay in random New York City cabs, but I honestly don't know if it works in any San Francisco taxis.) Square, which many drivers use to process payments, also plans to release an Apple Pay reader in the fall.

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And after a long day of travel and a lot of use, my Apple Watch still had more than 40 percent charge left on its battery. And though I did notice a difference in battery life on my iPhone due to all of the Bluetooth back and forth between it and the Watch, it wasn't a major issue. 

Apple Watch as your travel companion: Conclusion

A couple of weeks ago, I had to leave my Watch at an Apple Store for some minor repairs. Shortly after I dropped it off, I realized that I check my phone an absolutely ridiculous amount of times each day, but only a dozen or so messages are actually important. I started getting frustrated having to repeatedly take my phone out of my pocket, even though I'd been doing just that for years without thinking about it.

[Related: Apple Watch 'Wrist Detect' feature key for IT ]

Smartwatches, including the Apple Watch, serve as a filter for the relevant information you need to see immediately, and they reduce unnecessary distraction until you have more time to deal with all the clutter that invades your phone each day. They also free up your hands, and that's important at a time when phones just keep getting larger and larger, and more awkward to hold. (I'm looking at you iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4.) The ability to forget your phone but still monitor alerts is key when you're rushing to hop on a train or waiting to board a plane with all of your baggage.

I encountered a few bumps along the way during my trip to San Francisco, and it's clear that many modern scanners, such as the ones at Starbucks and the JetBlue gate in Logan Airport weren't built with wrist-worn devices in mind. However, scanning hardware will likely become more modular in the future, and they'll be designed to scan all types of different gadgets.

Today's high-end smartwatches are marketed mostly at consumers, and the focus is on fitness features, but the current crop may be better suited for businesspeople and frequently travelers who need the capability to strategically filter and monitor notifications. Smartwatches are also relatively expensive, and a $500 (or more) luxury that can't do anything that your phone doesn't is a tough sell for many individuals. However, that chunk of change is much less of an obstacle for organizations with flexible technology budgets.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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