The company says it will be showing timely and relevant updates to passengers through Google Now flight cards, for all tickets bought with a valid Gmail address. These updates will alert users of the flight’s departure time & terminal and provide travel information like flight status and upcoming flights among others. It mentions that any booking changes will also automatically reflect on Google Now cards.
Remember that Google Now is currently available only on devices running Android 4.1 or later, which has around 64.5% marketshare as per the latest Android distribution numbers. Its also available as part of the Google search app on iOS devices.
Note that Google Now previously offered flight cards which provided information like flight status, departure & arrival time among others. However, it was dependent on information from either the user’s gmail account or had earlier searched for the specific flight on Google and didn’t appear for all flight searches in our experience.
In recent months, we’ve also noticed that Google has added several new Google Now cards like movie passes which alerts users when to leave for their show and provides directions to the venue with live traffic details, cricket score cards and news topics among others.
Ticket-less entry? What’s not clear is whether users will be able to get past airport security and also board flights with these flight cards, thereby allowing passengers to skip the long queues typically seen in check-in counters.
While some airports allow entry with a virtual ticket, I have always been asked for a paper ticket by airport security to get entry into the Bangalore airport which is quite bizarre since they have no means to verify whether information listed in the printouts is valid (I’ve never seen them use a barcode reader).
Following this, one also has to present the virtual boarding pass at the check-in counter or make use of kiosks (in case of web check-ins) to collect printed boarding passes. Paperless boarding passes are not supported in India right now.
We feel this integration will be much more useful if the government allows paperless boarding passes as well and also train security staff and other employees involved with ground handling on its use. The Indian Railways already allows travellers to board trains virtual tickets, so it shouldn’t be difficult.
This issue is not limited to flight tickets only, users also have to present either virtual passes or text messages at a movie ticket counter to collect their physical tickets, which we feel can easily be avoided by providing a ticket-less entry.
What Next? We are curious to see if this development will lead to more companies like Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip and BookMyShow offering Google Now integrations to their users. These companies had earlier added support for Apple’s Passbook to provide all the important details present on the ticket upfront.
E-Commerce companies like Flipkart and Amazon India could also offer Google Now integrations allowing users to track their packages in real-time.
p.s. It’s cute how Google Now keeps trying to guess my “work place” since I work remotely.