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Posts from the ‘Apps’ Category

Sony and Vueling to launch the world’s first wearable boarding pass.

March 20th, 2014

Kinny Cheng

Via Vueling’s news site:

Vueling and Sony have launched the first ever wearable boarding pass in the world. Using a 2D barcode, the application puts flight information and boarding passes as close as your wrist.

Great to see how Sony and Vueling managed to find reasonable cause in one another.

But to say…

This exciting launch places both companies at the forefront of mobile technology.

…is a big claim which I simply won’t agree with.

A theoretically-sound product-service doesn’t necessarily translate to true success in a real-world environment, let alone one that involves numerous stakeholders throughout the air travel value chain.

As always, in cases like this, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong — all in the name of seamless travels.

Mobile technology, airports, and the passenger experience.

February 22nd, 2014

Kinny Cheng

Ryan Ghee, writing for Future Travel Experience:

Having previously relied on airports and airlines as the sole source of travel-related information, all of a sudden passengers could pro-actively take it into their own hands, quite literally, to access the information they want exactly when they need it.

This can only be a good thing in an age of “information always at your fingertips”.

But there seems to be a growing concern…

In the years since, passengers have come to expect a more personalised travel experience, with information specific to their own journey and their own preferences very much in demand. In some instances, airports and airlines have taken it upon themselves to provide interactive, engaging, more personal experiences that leverage mobile technology, but increasingly, third party companies are getting involved. So, are these ‘third parties’ actually the ones redefining the airport experience and, if so, should airports and airlines be concerned?

The article continues on by pointing out key examples for both sides of the argument.

But analysing this can be very straight-forward.

If a third-party has established the means by which passengers or other stakeholders can ascertain the necessary information for their airport experience, the next task is to check how well this is done.

In the case where Google is able to provide details for Emirates Airline and Singapore Airlines flights — which I would rate as a very handy, always-accessible and well-presented service (simply type the flight number into Google search, and viola!) — and interactive maps of airport terminals via Google Maps, there is simply no need for developers of airport apps to duplicate this functionality when this high-quality user experience cannot be emulated or bettered.

For airline or airports that are not serviced by Google, passengers would then need to fall back on to the next-most logical information sources — that is, the airline and/or the airport web site.

Generally speaking, mobile apps are great ideas. On top of offering a plethora of valuable information and functionality, it gets a presence on the home screen of the passenger’s smartphone. While this one-tap-access can be truly handy, the user experience offered by the app can be a make-or-break scenario.

I have had my fair share of experiences with mobile apps by different airports and airlines. In most cases, I am left startled by just how cluttered, useless and un-user-friendly they can be! If it was something that only the app could help me with, I’ll bear with it — otherwise, the app gets deleted immediately and I fire up the mobile web browser and try my luck there instead.

The following rings very true:

According to Chandra Jacobs, Co-founder and CEO of tripchi, […] “What we’re seeing today is a highly fragmented market when it comes to airport mobile solutions, which are developed in stovepipes, and are therefore reliant on a huge marketing budget to remind customers to use the app.

“Secondly, an airport’s core competency is not app development (whether it’s web or mobile) – it’s delivering safe and efficient air travel to a traveler.

We all know what airports are (supposed to be) good at — and developing a smartphone mobile app to facilitate a passenger’s journey is probably not one of them. Every airline, every airport, has their own take on how and what to present in their apps. This introduces inconsistencies in usability and expectations, which then becomes an annoyance.

Why not let third-parties develop solutions, even if these were partial, to the problem? Like what Google has begun doing, by offering up-to-date flight information and indoor maps for airport terminals, it will eventually become commonplace whenever a reference becomes necessary.

For the airport or airline, scaling economies is a no-brainer — but not unless the app can offer a user experience that’s uniquely outstanding, which would most probably cost way too much. For passengers, googling is fast and direct, while also getting presented with information that is consistent and reliable.

By all means, I love apps — but only if they do what they are supposedly designed for, very well. Not even Changi Airport, the most awarded airport in the world, could create a mobile app that is as outstanding as its world-class facilities and services (to be fair, it is packing with information — but presented rather poorly on a visual level).

So leave the hard work to those who can do it better than properly — or, make sure the in-house (or outsourced) development follow proper guidelines in design and usability testing. No half-empty, half-full jobs will ever suffice when it comes to creating one-to-one service encounters (think social media engagement).

Tokyo Narita unveils Japan’s first smartphone app [sic]

July 13th, 2012

Kinny Cheng

Airport World Magazine reporting on “Japan’s first [smartphone] app” (which I’m pretty sure it isn’t):

“”This indispensable airport aid shows the user’s location within the terminal, and is equipped with an experimental navigation, which guides the user to his/her desired destination, which is part of our ongoing demonstration trials using indoor positioning information technology.”

All very interesting — I love new concepts to further enhance the passenger experience!

Hence, I was hoping to give it a quick whirl — however, it was nowhere to be found on the App Store (apparently, the app comes in both iOS and Android flavours).

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