Apple’s iBeacons, which transmit location-based signals when you’re close to them, are the key.
iBeacons already work with the iPhone. For example, if you walk by an iBeacon at a museum, it could tell your iPhone to open the museum’s app to the particular exhibit you’re walking by.
Now, we’re starting to get an idea how iBeacons could work with the Apple Watch to nudge people using certain app.
inMarket, which helps companies develop iPhone apps that use iBeacons, has a new software development kit that can let the Apple Watch do some interesting things with iBeacons.
Starting today, developers will be able to integrate their Apple Watch apps with List Ease, inMarket’s shopping checklist app.
So, for instance, you might have a grocery list stored in List Ease on your phone. When you walk by an iBeacon in the store, it could send your Apple Watch a little “buzz” alerting you that you’re close to one of the items on your list, and the watch could show a simple “short look” alert.
When you lift your wrist, it would show you the relevant nearby items with a “long look.” If you select it, it could show you the full list. Here’s inMarket’s example:
It’s easy to imagine other scenarios as well. For instance, the Watch could flash a limited-time promotional offer for a product you’ve bought before when you get close to it in the store.
inMarket is aware that people don’t want to be bombarded with alerts, so customers using an Apple Watch app supported by inMarket will only receive one alert per app per visit.
The first company to take advantage of the new SDK is Marsh Supermarkets, a chain of about 60 stores in the midwest. Only about a dozen app builders are working with inMarket so far, but that number may grow once the watch is actually out. Other partners include Conde Nast, WebMD, and Gannett.
While this is a pretty limited use case, it begins to show how the Apple Watch might change how we do things. It was hard to imagine all the apps that the iPhone would enable when it first came out. The Apple Watch will evolve in exactly the same way.
Here’s inMarket’s video showing how the Apple Watch will work in stores:
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