The market is flooded with smartphone apps that help air travellers navigate their journey, from checking in to receiving updates when a flight is delayed.

But by the end of 2012, these apps may not be necessary. Apple’s new operating system, iOS 6 (a free update for most recent versions of the iPhone and iPad), will include a built-in app called Passbook that will function like many air travel apps combined.

Using your various frequent flier accounts, Passbook will store the information about your upcoming flights. On the day of your flight, the app will use your device’s geolocation service to recognise when you’ve arrived at the airport and open the relevant boarding pass, complete with a barcode for the gate agent to scan. Passbook will also provide gate status updates and include a hotel-booking tool.

Android, the largest rival smartphone platform to Apple, doesn’t yet have a similar service for its devices. So for travellers with Androids, or for those of us who prefer to stock our phones with several apps, here are a few that specialise in making the air travel experience run smoothly, with functions that will remain useful even after Apple’s new Passbook app debuts.

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