Apple's hot iTravel plan for the NFC iPhone 5

By Jonny Evans

Hats off to David Flynn at Australian Business Traveler and his latest gem -- a report which looks at Apple [AAPL] and its secret iTravel app. This will guide you through ticket purchase, baggage claim, check-in, security -- even your in-flight entertainment system.

itravel.jpg

[ABOVE: An iTravel patent picture, thanks to Patently Apple.]

Your complete travel assistant

Flynn's been picking apart Apple's patents filings to uncover a series of propositions which spread end-to-end across what you do when you travel by air. The ideas included within this swathe of patent filing will be particularly significant for business and other frequent travelers. Some ideas are especially compelling, such as automatically being access to the relevant local travel guide, all within the app.

iTravel seems set to become one of Apple's first RFID/NFC-based apps, as many of its features require use of these technologies. This makes me think we won't see this appear until launch of the iPhone 5 later on this year.

This also means Apple is continuing to focus on how you can use your mobile devices in practical and useful ways. (I.e: It isn't just how many Megahertz a device carries, but how useful the device can be.)

Everything in a box

As described in the report and within a series of Apple patent filings, the integrated iTravel app will be useful for:

  • Flight bookings;
  • Hotel bookings;
  • Car rentals;
  • Local information;
  • Maps;
  • Public transport;
  • Check in;
  • In-flight entertainment;
  • Clearing security.

There's even descriptions of how your iPhone could be delivering information to help you get around the hotel. And as to how it could be used as a digital passport, enabling identification. Does anyone else remember the (now denied) iPad passport story from last weekend?

It gets even more interesting when you read the last part of the report, where you see iTravel could be used to control the in-room systems in approved hotels, or to book local activities in the place you are in.

These iTravel implementations seem to me to be as perfect an example of how integrated software-based solutions in conjunction with NFC systems could be useful in our lives. That's assuming there's not too much advertising and/or data mining made as to people's private travel habits.

Be warned, just because there's a patent doesn't mean Apple will release a product. This is a firm which says it is proud of what it does not ship, after all.

"But it's hard to imagine so much work going into iTravel, only for it to remain in Apple's sandbox, so hopefully this is an app we'll see in the next year or two," writes ABT.

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld.          

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