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apple-watch-croppedLess than six years ago mobile apps were in their infancy and many industry observers wondered whether they’d really catch on. Fast-forward to today and 87% of the time consumers spend using mobile devices is inside apps.  Its how we interact with those apps and on which non-smartphone devices that are the new battleground for device manufacturers.  This week’s announcement on the commercial launch date and price points of Apple Watch finally revealed what Tim Cook has been hiding up his sleeve, adding significant firepower to the Apple armoury.

Here Brett Caine, CEO, Urban Airship deconstructs some of the features and explains the significance for brands.

Whilst social networking and games dominates our time-spent on mobile, companies across every industry are using apps to streamline and contextualise customer interactions and businesses are achieving unheard of response rates and sparking brand experiences that were previously impossible. Increasingly, mobile’s opportunity is being realised beyond the connotations of those three little letters—“app”—and, in fact, Forrester Research says firms will spend $189 billion between now and 2017 re-engineering their business for mobile.

So what does the highly anticipated introduction of Apple Watch add to the mix? Apple Watch offers the ability for brands to get even closer to customers (quite literally), reducing friction and reaching them with seconds-long actionable glances in the moments that matter most.

A good way to think of the Apple Watch is as your carry-on baggage, while smartphones are the suitcase you check-in. With Apple Watch, consumers avoid the hassle of de-boarding their pocket or purse and can instantly consume and respond to messages.

“A good way to think of the Apple Watch is as your carry-on baggage, while smartphones are the suitcase you check-in.”

Quick glances to the wrist are a huge convenience, especially considering people look at their phones 200 times each day (Forrester Research Inc., Julie Ask blog “Winning In Your Customers’ Mobile Moments,” 5/30/2104). In fact, Forrester cites that more than half of those 200 daily mobile moments could be consumed at a glance (Micro Moments Are The Next Frontier For Mobile, Forrester Research Inc., Sept. 8, 2014).

In other words, immediate messaging is more essential than ever. And it’s not just third-parties but Apple itself clarifying two key things through WatchKit, the software development framework for Apple Watch:

  1. Developers can extend their iPhone experience with timely and easily consumable content optimized for the wrist
  2. Actionable notifications will be the most powerful form for these experiences

With Apple Watch, notifications go from a critical solution for app engagement on smartphones, to one of the primary ways users will interact with the device. These actionable, button-enabled notifications give consumers powerful controls to respond to messages, set their preferences, and execute actions within your app and others, all through simple taps on their Apple Watch. For businesses, these button taps provide a new way to learn what makes their most loyal and early-adopting customers tick, and can act as gateways to more robust experiences across a brand’s apps and within its physical locations.

However, Apple Watch also means notifications are more personal and with the Apple Watch app, included as part of the iOS 8.2 update, consumers will control which apps get to send notifications through to Apple Watch — and even decide if they want to opt in for iPhone notifications to begin with. The bar for highly relevant and contextual notifications just got higher.

brett_caine_headshot Brett Caine


Urban Airship

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As Ross Sleight, Chief Strategy Officer of our partner Somo Global stated:  “Apple Watch cannot simply replicate notifications from the iPhone.  If it’s buzzing a news story or chat notification every few minutes, the device becomes an annoyance and hindrance. What we will need to see is a very focused set of personalised priorities applied for notifications and glances on the device. Creating highly customised alerts actually means the Apple Watch will gain a greater benefit for the user as these notifications and glances will carry relevance to their lives by surfacing only the really important information.”