Now that most airlines allow you to use your mobile devices during flights and many offer Wi-Fi on their planes, it’s no surprise that we are also seeing more applications that enable that in-flight use. Most major U.S. airlines use Gogo to power their on-board connectivity, and the company obviously wants to encourage people to sign up for its service.
Its latest effort to get people to work at 35,000 feet instead of just reading a good book is the launch of an API that will allow developers to create new in-flight apps for passengers and flight crews.
This new Gogo platform, which is powered by enterprise API service Apigee, will give developers access to flight information data, as well as the ability to check whether users are authenticated on Gogo’s network and to allow them to purchase a Gogo pass if they are not. Sadly, it looks like Gogo is only going to make these APIs available to a small number of registered partners for the time being. It’s unclear how developers can become “registered partners,” however. We have asked the company for clarification and will update this post once we learn more.
The company has already worked with partners like Virgin Airlines, which uses the API for its in-flight social networking app for iOS, and Glympse, which now makes it easy for flyers to share their locations with those they’ve left behind on the ground. For reasons only the FAA knows, you aren’t allowed to use your GPS in flight, after all, so by combining your flight data from Gogo and your in-air Wi-Fi connection, you can still update your friends about exactly where you are in the sky.
What we’re seeing here is probably just the start. Travelers — and business travelers especially — are a lucrative market, and there are plenty of cool and useful apps somebody could build for in-flight use. Sadly, Gogo wouldn’t make any detailed information about the API’s features available to us, so we are not really sure what its exact capabilities are.