My Apple Watch arrived in early June. I ordered it on the release date (don’t judge me), and waited and waited for it to arrive. Meanwhile, I read the good, the tepid and the bad reviews. I did my best to reserve judgment.
When it came, I installed many of the available watch apps, tried them once and haven’t been back. The capabilities of most apps are limited and, in most cases, navigating the tiny screen is harder than just grabbing your iPhone. This will likely change with operating system upgrades.
For now, I find myself using the clock (go figure), notifications, and the built-in health and fitness tracking capabilities the most. I’ve worn a Fitbit on my wrist for the past couple of years, and I do like the Apple Watch better for basic step and calorie-counting. Having a built-in heart-rate monitor is a nice bonus.
Apple Watch notifications, including text messages and calendar alerts, are very handy. I often miss text messages from my wife and kids on my iPhone. When wearing the watch and a notification comes in, I get a subtle vibration on my wrist. So now I am fully aware of all notifications without being too distracted.
After a few weeks of wearing the Apple Watch, I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10–and I could see that rating rising to a 9 once watchOS 2 comes out in the fall. But based on my experience so far, I would also say your credit union doesn’t need an Apple Watch app.
There may be a wow factor for credit unions to get on the Apple Watch with an extension of their iOS app, but it would primarily be a novelty.
Mike Lawson recently had Malauzai Software’s Robb Gaynor on Lawson’s CUbroadcast talk show to highlight a number of credit unions that had apps out on day one. Being first is something to make some noise about, but at this point I think Apple Watch users will be very choosy about what apps get installed on their watches, and they will easily dismiss apps that offer little added benefit over their iPhone apps.
However, Apple Watch notifications may be something to take advantage of right away. My credit union–$40 million Mt. Lehman Credit Union in Mt. Lehman, British Columbia–has real-time text notifications. I have always found it really handy to get daily iPhone text alerts with my account balances and when payments and deposits go through my accounts. These are now hitting my wrist and I find that very helpful, too.
Notably, Mt. Lehman CU didn’t build any special Apple Watch functionality and I didn’t have to set anything up to receive these.
Another area to look at would be Apple Pay on the watch. If you are already set up to process Apple Pay on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it would be interesting to explore Apple Watch functionality with your payment processor. It would be very convenient to simply tap your wrist and go. Since I’m Canadian and Apple Pay has not come to Canada yet, I can’t really comment too much more on this subject, just yet (sigh). Stay tuned …
Tim McAlpine is president and creative director of Currency. He is a credit union advocate best known for developing CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec and the Young & Free program that credit unions from around North America are using to connect with new, young adult members. Subscribe to his blog and follow him on Twitter.