If you are a frequent traveler you almost certainly know someone who has had a smartphone stolen. We have a friend who had two iPhones stolen in two days and we know many others who had one heisted. Last year, in the USA alone, thieves made off with more than 2 million smartphones, according to a 2015 Consumer Reports research project. As alarming as this number is, it is down by about 1 million from the previous year. Most people credit this decline to the iPhone’s kill switch feature. Nevertheless, the number of phones taken is staggering and may well increase as hackers find ways to counter the kill switch.
The risk for travelers is higher than regular folks as many of the apps we like to use while traveling require having our iPhone out in the open. One of my favorite theft stories involves a scooter passenger who was providing directions to the driver when a second scooter pulled along side and the driver swiped the iPhone right out of her hands. The passenger watched with horror as the raider sped away. A low-speed chase ensued but the 49cc scooter with two riders was no match for the 100cc super solo scooter.
The Apple Watch seems to offer some protection against this and many other crimes frequent travelers must confront.
ApplePickers – the malefactors who steal iPhones – love nothing more than a mark who has an iPhone in hand, in an open purse or even better, hanging out of their back pocket. Presumably the latter is more than a fashion statement and has something to do with the ready access this affords, much like the cowboy’s quickdraw holster. The Apple Watch allows you to securely stow your iPhone and still access essential travel apps.
Here are five examples of how an Apple Watch can make travel more safe:
1. Navigate like a local
Walking down a busy street with your iPhone out as a navigation tool is like putting a big target on your back, stating I am a tourist – please steal my phone (or more likely your wallet/purse). The Watch map app is super easy to use and provides turn-by-turn directions through a series of discrete sounds and vibrations ( haptic alerts as Apple calls them). You can walk down the street without most people even realizing you are using an app.
2. Purchasing without exposing your wallet
Using the Watch to make purchases using Apple Pay is very slick. No need to pull out a wallet, credit card, or cash. Simply make two discrete taps on a button and Apple Pay activates. We know some folks will argue there are risks with Apple Pay but we are convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.
3. Know the local currency
How many times have you seen an “expert” negotiator bartering over the price of a pair of elephants pants with an iPhone in hand ready to do the currency conversions. The Apple Watch is great for doing quick conversions while keeping your iPhone tucked away. We prefer the XE conversion app.
4. Rapid flight updates
Running through an airport to catch a flight that is about to depart seems to be a part of travel these days. Trying to access your airline app on your phone while running not only attracts unnecessary attention but often leads to great YouTube clips as you crash into an innocent passerby or even worse, a closed glass door. Many airlines now support the Apple Watch and a simple flick of the wrist provides the flight status, including gate changes and delays.
5. Staying in touch
Every Trekkie’s dream is to have a communicator like Kirk, Spock, or Jean-Luc Picard and now you can. The Apple Watch is awesome at screening phone calls, reading messages and even making quick, albeit rather terse, replies. The Watch even recommends context relevant replies. Again all of this can be done while your phone is safely tucked away.
So there you have it, five ways to make your travel safer and probably more fun. This might even substantiate your desire to spend the $400 or so for an entry-level model (especially for those who really need to convince their partner).