The nascent wearables category is giving brands opportunity to morph into coaches and concierges. Coaches are brands like Nike and healthcare firms that can help consumers stay on track with their fitness or health goals. Concierges are brands that help consumers fulfill their desires. Are you hungry? Do you need to remember to buy milk on the way home? Should you order some Tide before you run out? These are all questions and needs that brands can help address – starting with the Apple Watch.
However, many app developers have rushed in with stripped-down versions of their iPhone apps for the Apple Watch. While that’s a logical approach, the Apple Watch isn’t merely an iPhone Lite; it’s a different device entirely that’s created with one goal in mind – the easing of friction.
Apps for the watch should make life easier
The concept behind the Apple Watch is that once you strap one on, you will no longer have to arduously dig into your pocket for your wallet or cellphone. The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, for instance, relayed the most frictionless experience possible in 2015: She ran, listening to Taylor Swift with her Bluetooth earbuds and then used her Apple Watch to buy an iced latte at Whole Foods “just by tapping [her] wrist to the reader.”
This is the best-case version of the Apple Watch experience. On the other hand, many reviewers have complained about the Watch’s incessant volley of notifications. Since the Apple Watch employs a Taptic Engine that taps your wrist for every notification, brands can wear out their welcomes quickly.
Consumers have the power to engage, or object
Consumers, of course, can turn off notifications. They can modulate the number of notifications for native apps, but for third-party apps it’s a binary affair: notifications are either on or off. To make sure your app doesn’t land in the “off” category it’s a good idea to not only be discriminating about the number of notifications you push, but also mindful that if you offer useful, compelling functionality, your audience will not object.
For brands, the challenge is to find a happy medium between helpful and overly promotional. While most apps seem to be focused on notifications, few have exploited the idea of reducing friction.
Brands can become more than a simple utility
The focus should be on the “pull” of the app rather than the “push.” For example, Domino’s app lets you order and then track a pizza. Chipotle’s Apple Watch app has a similar function. For a certain type of customer, this will signify a closer connection to the brand than the mobile app alone would because there’s one step removed between the thought and the action, allowing for a truly seamless experience. With the iPhone (app only), you might consider ordering your meal and then dig out your phone from your pocket, and constantly need to monitor it for updates. With the Apple Watch, you merely tap on a device that’s connected to your wrist, and receive updates automatically, making for a much simpler, effortless experience. It’s a subtle difference, but it represents an opportunity for brands to forge more intimate connections with consumers
Apps on the Apple Watch are also making strides in empowering the customer and adding further value. American Airlines’ Apple Watch app tells you if your flight is on time, what the weather’s like, and the driving time to the airport. Starwood Hotels lets you open the room to your hotel room door via your watch. With the Apple Watch, brands can redefine themselves as an ally to the consumer, instead of merely as a utility.
Wearables may be the gateway to the home
With the new iOS 9 operating system recently announced at WWDC, the ability to control the world around you becomes even easier. Now, everything from your home to your car has the ability to connect to your mobile devices and developers have access to the tools needed to create Apple-friendly IoT products with WatchKit. While providing a frictionless experience has always been the goal of brands in all sorts of categories – like airlines and hotels – now each one is going to have the same mission. If things go as analysts predict, by 2020 we’ll all be communicating with our washing machines, thermostats and cars as a result of the Internet of Things.
Determining smart IoT placements will be a big business soon, but consumers have a say as well. Make a good impression on the Apple Watch and you may be invited into the home as well. Just make sure you make life easier for the consumer, not harder.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Apple Watch Apps Help Brands Serve as Coaches and Concierges
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