Four New Apps Make Google Glass a Traveler's Best Friend
Pop up notifications about your flight status. Instant visual translations. Directions to your hotel within seconds of your asking. Google Glass has been targeting travelers for months, with an arsenal of tools that intend to get you looking away from your smart phone and around at world. Today, the company is making a bigger push than ever into the travel space, with the release of three new apps that any jetsetter will no doubt recognize—TripIt, Foursquare, and OpenTable—plus a smart re-release of the exploration tool, Field Trip, which now lets you ask for sightseeing suggestions based on its eclectic catalogue of local sites and venues.
Each app (called Glassware, in Google speak) is optimized for the wearable system, offering up only the most relevant and most localized, time-sensitive information at any moment. This way, you're truly keeping your focus on what's around you, and not what's appearing in the top right corner of your field of view. For Foursquare, that means you can check in to places within a 0.1 mile radius with a simple voice command and a tap; OpenTable is similarly streamlined to suggest tables in the immediate vicinity, and at times you've liked to dine in the past. Of course, this strips away some functions you might like to rely on (Foursquare tips; the ability to fine tune your reservation preferences)—underscoring the notion that glass will get you what you really need and then get out of the way. Indeed, after some time with the device, you forget you're wearing it (it's just everyone else that takes notice).
But the biggest news today is the integration of TripIt, whose full functionality will only be available to existing pro subscribers. This smart use of glassware will call up your gate assignment, tell you about flight delays, and manage every detail of your itinerary—all available for easy reference even when you're juggling two suitcases and a carry on. Unlike with mobile apps, glassware appears when it thinks you need it or by voice commands—you don't have to scroll through icons or menus to open any particular program.
What's left to be determined is how many travelers will embrace the technology when it comes to market (though Glass is still in beta, it's newly more available to the general public). The otherness of wearing Glass may be more of a barrier for travelers hoping to feel like a local; the risk of being targeted for theft has already been seen. But the more Google does to prove the extraordinary worth of this technology, the more hopeful we can be for its bright future.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.