I can remember years ago booking hotels based on whether or not they offered internet in their rooms. Now we take it for granted that any hotel that we’d book has some form of internet access. They either have WiFi throughout, WiFi in common areas, ethernet in every room or all of the above. Unfortunately having the luxury of ethernet jacks in every room is becoming a thing of the past. Newly built hotels are usually built and go completely wireless. With ethernet in the room you can setup your own wireless access point and in many cases you’ll have a faster connection on the less congested ethernet connection. If you have a weak signal in your room even a wireless personal router such as this one won’t help. With more and more people bringing multiple devices with them when they travel and being more dependent on an internet connection to get work done, a decent internet connection in your hotel is very important.
I’ve been a long time user of Instagram. I love it because I can post pics there and not only share them with in Instagram followers, but also simultaneously post them to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, email and even Flickr. I like Instagram a lot. It’s probably the only social media platform that I check my entire feed of people that I follow on a daily basis. However, the thing that I absolutely hated was being forced into a 1:1 “square” aspect ratio. Some pics just look better in their native portrait or landscape orientation. Sure I had work arounds and apps to allow me to fit the full photo into a square format, but it was extra work and it just didn’t look right. Doing video was even worse. Video naturally looks better “wide”.
When i’m at home I have my MacBook Pro connected to two additional displays. A Dell 4K display and a Wacom Cintiq HD 24 display/tablet. However, when I’m on the road I can’t bring those other displays with me. However, I almost always travel with my iPad Air 2. Well with the Duet Display App my iPad can serve as a second display to my Mac when I’m not using it as an iPad. I was blown away with the performance of this app. This is not the first time someone has attempted to do this. However, the previous attempts relied on WiFi and there was always a lag. With Duet Display it’s just as fluid as connecting a regular display because instead of using wireless they use the Lightning connector/USB instead. See it in action in the video demo I did:
I traveled to New York City for an event this week and I usually stay at either a Hilton or Marriott in Times Square. However, this time I choose the W Hotel Times Square since it was in the same price range and located right next to the Marriott I would have chosen anyway. The current version of the SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) App offers keyless entry on your iPhone and Android phone. It also offers it via Apple Watch. I wanted to give it a try. Before you get started on your travels you will need to join the SPG frequent stay program. It’s free of course and if you stay enough nights in Starwood property you’ll earn perks. Next you’ll need to download the SPG App and register your iPhone for Keyless entry. I actually did this months ago. My work travel is booked through an approved travel agency. As it turns out this interferes with the automatic nature of the keyless entry process. If you book via their app or website then you’ll automatically receive your digital key in the app 24 hours before you arrive. This way you can go right to your room when you arrive. Since I booked via a 3rd party I had to go to the reception desk upon arrival and check in in the usual manner. The staff issued me a regular plastic card key and I requested Keyless Entry. The computers were running slow so she instructed me to go on up to my room and the key would be pushed to my iPhone. I got the push notification about 20 minutes later. Of course I wanted to try it. Here’s a video:
As you can tell from the video above it takes a few taps to get to the key. The staff person actually told me that I would probably want to start brining up the key on my device in the elevator. That way the key would be on the screen by the time I hit the door. That’s pretty good advice whether you’re using your smartphone or Apple Watch.
Real World Use
Sometimes the digital key just wouldn’t show up on Apple Watch
I left my room and went out for a few hours. When I returned for whatever reason the key didn’t show up on the watch. I’m not sure why, but I said no problem I’ll just use my plastic key. I pulled out the key and held it up to the door only for it to flash red. Yep, it had demagnetized. Argggh, then I remembered that it was on my iPhone. I pulled up the SPG app on my iPhone and it worked perfectly. Over the next couple of days using the SPG App on Apple Watch was hit and miss. Sometimes the key was there sometimes it wasn’t, but it worked on the iPhone 100% of the time. Hopefully these kinds of issues (bugs) can be fixed. It would also be nice to have the key as a “glance” on the watch to jump right to it. This would allow you to get to the key much much faster than the way it works today (when it works).
The SPG app also does a good job with Push Notifications as you near the property. You can also add a card to Passbook with your stay information. The push notification offered to bring up the key on my iPhone as I walked near the hotel from dinner.
The Bottom Line
We’re on the cutting edge with this technology. Most hotels have only just started rolling out this technology across their properties. Once the kinks are worked out it will be so nice to have this option on our mobile devices. It was also nice to have it work when the regular key didn’t.
You can get the SPG app here from the