Union Square Hospitality Group Transforms Its Restaurant Experience With Apple Watch

What Happened
Union Square Hospitality is bringing wearable tech into the hospitality industry as it plans to equip every floor manager and sommelier with an Apple Watch when its Union Square Cafe reopens in Manhattan next month. In a partnership with startup Resy, managers will receive taps on their wrists as timely but subtle alerts whenever a VIP walks through the front door, a guest waits too long to order her or his drink, or a menu item runs out.

What Brands Should Do
This initiative serves as an interesting use case for restaurants and hospitality brands to leverage wearables to improve their customer service. The kind of discreet notifications smartwatches offer can keep managers in the loop without disrupting the customer experience. More hospitality and retail brands should consider exploring similar opportunities to modernize their on-premise customer service.


Source: Eater

Apple Mandates Watch Apps Work Independently By June

What Happened
Apple is requiring all new Apple Watch apps to run independently from iPhones by June 1st. The company issued the mandate to developers on Friday, indicating that it would reject Watch apps unable to function on their own from the App Store. Apple has allowed developers to create standalone Watch apps since the launch of watchOS 2 last September, whereas previously all Apple Watch apps ran on the iPhone they are linked with. The announcement dovetails with the Wall Street Journal’s report that the next Apple Watch hardware update may feature built-in cellular connectivity.

What Brands Need To Do
Since its launch one year ago, twice as many Apple Watches have been sold as iPhones during its first year, according to the Wall Street Journal. While marketers have yet to receive much support to advertise on Apple Watch, some early-adopting brands, such as Nike, Target, and Starwood Hotels, have developed branded apps. Given this announcement, it seems safe to predict that the new Apple Watch will become more powerful in its computing capability and therefore enable brands to develop more wearable-specific use cases to deliver true value to their customers through standalone Watch apps.


Source: The Verge

Facebook To Expand The Reach Of Its Content With New API And SDKs

What Happened
On Monday, Facebook introduced a new video embedding API and SDKs for Apple Watch and Apple TV, aiming to push content that currently lives on its platform into new places. The video embedding API will allow for third-party apps to use Facebook’s video player, which comes with an interactive drop-down sidebar and an autoplay option, further expanding the reach of Facebook videos. The two new SDKs, on the other hand, aim to help developers better incorporate Facebook services into the apps they are building for the new Apple TV and Apple Watch.

What Brands Need To Do
Facebook videos have been gaining momentum with brand advertisers in recent years, as Facebook’s vast amount of user data makes it as a more targeted and effective alternative to YouTube. With these new API and SDKs, brands should consider using them to expand the branded content that already lives on Facebook’s platform to reach more users across devices.

Source: The Next Web

Apple’s watchOS 2 and iOS 9 Are Here

What Happened
Apple has released the much-anticipated watchOS 2 after about a week’s delay due to “unexpected bugs.” The new operating system brings native apps, new personalization features, and HomeKit support to Apple Watch. In related news, iOS 9 was also released to the public last Wednesday after months of beta testing, bringing proactive search, along with several security and performance updates to millions of Apple users.

What Brands Should Do
As we wrote on Apple’s WWDC event earlier this year, watchOS 2 offers more opportunities for brand integrations through its enhanced personalization features like “complications,” which allow branded apps to add functionality to the watch face. The added support for native apps also promises a faster and more reliable user experience for third-party apps developed by brands. Similarly, iOS 9 brings proactive search extensibility to Apple’s mobile devices, which means brands need to get their apps properly indexed to ensure content discovery, both through search and through “peek and pop.”


Source: The Verge

Apple Watch Gets More Apps and Fashionable Watch Bands

Apple kicked off Wednesday’s event with a showcase of its newest product, the Apple Watch. With the new watchOS 2 (first announced at WWDC event back in June) coming next week with Watch-native apps, Apple demoed various new Watch apps such as Facebook Messenger, GoPro, and healthcare app AirStrip to showcase the versatility that its first wearable product gains through third-party apps.

Moreover, Apple continues to converge tech with fashion as it collaborated with Hermes on new models with exclusive bands and watch faces, as well as releasing new colorways for the Apple Watch Sport. The company is also reportedly prepping its first exclusive content in the form of fashion network ‘Made 2 Measure’.

Fast Forward: The Biggest Announcements From Apple’s WWDC 2015 Event

Your guide to tech-driven changes in the media landscape by IPG Media Lab. A fast read for you and a forward for your clients and team.

What Apple Announced

“Proactive” Search Extensibility
Apple kicked off the presentation with previews of the next-gen operating systems—OS X El Capitan for laptops and iMacs, and iOS 9 for mobile devices. One feature that stood out was “Proactive Assistant,” a new AI-enabled search for iOS 9, complete with deep-linking capability for apps and even indexed websites. Working with an enhanced Siri, the new search feature is context-sensitive, suggesting apps and content based on time, location, and even user habits.

Enhanced Personalization On Apple Watch
Apple unveiled the new OS for the recently launched Apple Watch, promising to bring more personalization to the device, such as “complications” which display customizable information from third-party apps right on the watch face. The new watchOS also added support for HomeKit, allowing the watch to interact and remotely control the various new sensors and connected devices.

Apple Pay Upgraded To Wallet
Apple Pay got a major upgrade, adding support for loyalty and store cards and more. The prior lack of integration with retailer loyalty programs and CRM systems had been cited as the biggest obstacle to retailer adoption of Apple Pay. These additions will help give more credibility to Tim Cook’s January claim that “2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.”

In an effort to support small businesses, Apple Pay will be compatible with a new reader from Square, launching in the fall. Moreover, Pinterest is integrating Apple Pay with their new buyable pins. Due to all these development, Passbook has been rebranded as Wallet. And, of course, all of these new features will be supported on the Apple Watch.

New Apps for Music and News
By introducing the new Music and News apps, Apple is officially getting into content curation to further enhance its mobile experience. Besides a paid-only streaming subscription service that rivals Spotify, the new Apple Music also puts curated music discovery front and center with a “for you” recommendation channel and a new 24/7 global radio. Similarly, the News app promises content recommendation based on reader interest and editorial curation.

Market Impact

“Proactive” Attack On Google
The new proactive features in iOS 9 are Apple’s take on the same user problems as Google’s new “Now On Tap” feature, as both aim to make use of the massive data that mobile users generate and leverage the behavioral insights into a more anticipatory user experience. As users move away from the mobile web into apps, Apple is deep-linking app content from search results to solidify its app ecosystem and help users find what they are looking for more quickly.

Apple is offering APIs for controlling how content appears in iOS Search. This applies to both websites and apps and amounts to a major new search platform for brands to optimize for. Today, brands have more control of their destiny on iOS than on Android, where Google is holding all the cards.

Making Apple Watch More Brand-Friendly
Allowing third-party complications on the watch face provides brands with a great opportunity to get on the prime real estate on the wrist. For example, Volkswagen’s Remote Control app was featured in the demo, and included a complication which puts the carmaker’s logo prominently on the watch face with the car’s battery charge level. HomeKit integration and native apps, with access to all of the Watch’s sensors, will significantly expand the Watch’s functionality and reach making the platform more valuable for brands to get on board.

Moving Beyond Just Payment
Apple Pay has been making remarkable progress since its launch, set to top 1 million available locations in the U.S. next month*, and now it will soon be making its first overseas expansion into the UK next month in over 250,000 locations, including London’s transportation system. The integration with Pinterest’s buyable pins also points to Apple’s ambition of integrating Apple Pay into ecommerce platforms. More importantly, the new inclusion of rewards and loyalty cards will offer brands a great platform to maintain their relationships with the loyal customers via built-in loyalty programs as well as personalized offers.

Apple Getting Into Content Curation
While it is still early to tell how much impact the Music and News apps will have on the digital publishing and music industry, respectively, Apple is clearly making an effort to take more control over content, taking on competitors such as Spotify and Facebook’s Instant Articles. For content creators, including brands, these could be interesting new channels to connect directly with fans, and, especially in the case of Music, lead to additional commerce opportunities such as ticket sales. It will also affect advertising, as publishers can sell ads directly and retain 100% of revenue, or use iAd and retain 70%.

Our full coverage of WWDC 2015 is here. Please contact Engagement Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) at the IPG Media Lab if you would like more detail or to schedule a visit to the Lab.

This is the second of our Fast Forward analysis. Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your feedback will help us immensely. You can read our first Fast Forward analysis on Google I/O Event here.


*Editor’s Note: updated on June 9, 2o15 12:40pm to include stats on Apple Pay in the states.

Lab’s First Impression: Apple Watch

According to the estimation of shipping tracking company Slice Intelligence, only 22% out of the 1.7 million ordered Apple Watches were shipped this past weekend. Luckily, the Lab received several of our pre-orders on Friday, so some Lab members got to try it on over the weekend. Here are their first impressions:

Adam Simon, Head of Strategy
“The watch immediately became a security blanket for me — it allowed me to not check my phone so often, and not even worry as much about where it might be at any given moment. After taking a hard look at my notifications and paring them down to just the essentials, I now know that anything that taps my wrist is actually important. I’ve been wearing it from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep, with no battery issues at all. Just like the first iPhone was a bit like cultural training wheels for having a computer in our pockets, I think the Watch will wind up being training wheels for having computers on our bodies.”

Scott Varland, Creative Director
“It’s as wonderful and as imperfect as the first iPhone on launch day. It fulfills the basic promise of extending the iOS experience and it succeeds in making its owner feel ‘naked’ without one after using it for a few days. It is not an essential device, but I have no doubt that many iPhone owners will covet one the same way they do a nice case. For all of the new problems smart phones have created (read: peak distraction), this helps solve some by taking the anxiety away. Not having to run for my phone each time it beeps and buzzes is liberating; and not having to look like I need directions at the intersection is confidence-building.”

Michelle Cortese, UX Designer
“I fell in love with the haptics right away. They’re subtle and prioritized, using a range of vibration intensity and frequency to communicate levels of urgency very well. That said, suddenly every notification became more intimately and immediately demanding; by the end of the day, the sensation of a tiny finger tapping my wrist felt more like the nagging of an overly eager younger sibling. A couple times, I was so focused on the Watch that I wound up abandoning my phone on the table. Whoops!”

Interested in trying out the Apple Watch for yourself? If you’re an employee of Mediabrands, visit us on the 9th floor to try it in person.

Are You Ready For The Apple Watch?

Today marks the official ship date for the first batch of Apple Watch pre-orders, but developers and brands have long been preparing for its arrival. With its limited screen space, the Watch might not seem very brand-friendly at first. In order to connect with users of the Watch, brands need to move away from the “interrupt and engage” approach to adding value within the appropriate context. Here’s how three industries are getting ready for Apple Watch:

Mobile Payment and Banking
Equipped with NFC chips, Apple Watch allows users to use Apple Pay without their phones once the devices are linked up. Besides making mobile payment as convenient as a simple lift of wrist, personal banking is also coming to Apple Watch as banks like Citi Bank and CIBC launch apps for Apple Watch. Citi’s Apple Watch app, for example, uses its Glance feature to show clients their financial information quickly, while also subtly notify the users when a purchase is made on their cards.

Another industry embracing the potential changes that Apple Watch might bring is medical healthcare. The use of smartwatches in healthcare communication, in particular, holds great potential to improve the speed and quality of care delivery. While sensors monitoring of activities, sleep cycles, pulse rate, and other biometrics have become standard features on most smartwatches, Apple Watch comes with over a dozen healthcare apps that can not only help people to stay fit, but also lets doctors preemptively recognize potential health risks.

Connected Devices
Thanks to the personal nature of smartwatches, the Apple Watch will be able to understand and anticipate behavioral needs, which makes it the perfect control hub for connected devices. Use cases range from the connected coffee machine that automatically starts brewing as you soon as you get up, to the connected light bulbs that create the perfect bedroom lighting to help you fall asleep. So far, at least 3 smart home brands have added support for Apple Watch, with more expected to follow soon.

So far, the Lab has received three of our pre-ordered Apple Watch, all set up and loaded with great apps. Visit us to try one on in person!


Apple Watch May Help Make Playlists Based On Your Pulse

Read original story on: PSFK

Apple Watch comes with a lot of sensors to measure your biometric data such as heartbeat rates, movements, or calorie burns, primarily for health and fitness purposes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used outside the healthcare domain.

HeartbeatsMUSIC came up with an app concept for Beats Music that leverages the pulse-detecting function on Apple Watch into contextual music discovery. The app could capture the changes in a user’s pulse and activates the mic embedded in the Apple Watch in order to identify the songs, before automatically organizing them into different playlists based on both heartbeat rates and the music beats. If ever made a reality, this could inspire more interesting new use cases of biometric sensors on smartwatches.


A Look Into Apple Watch’s 1 Million US Preorders

Even though Tim Cook won’t comment on the Apple Watch’s official launch other than “great”, new details of the initial market reception towards Apple’s first smartwatch have emerged via shopping data firm Slice Intelligence.

According to the data reported, over 1 million units of Apple Watch were preordered on the first day of its launch, two-thirds of which are for the Sport line, making it the most popular model so far. This is not that surprising, considering the Sport line comes with the lowest prices, making it the perfect try-on choice for early adopters. Moreover, the early adopters seem to skew male, as over 71% of pre-orders were for the larger, 42mm size.

Official sales for Apple Watch will begin next Friday, April 24 ,in nine countries. It will be interesting to see if the global markets, especially China, respond as well as the domestic market so far.