How Brick-and-Mortar Brands are Using the Apple Watch

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The Apple Watch started to arrive at homes over the weekend for the few who managed to make the cut during pre-orders earlier this month. The new device — the first new Apple product since the iPad — has received mixed-to-positive reviews from experts. But, like the iPhone, many believe its portability and accessibility will make it materially important for local tech.

The watch, which does not have GPS, will rely heavily on the iPhone, but the device does offer bluetooth low energy and the iBeacon protocol, the two technologies that sparked the recent explosion in beacon-related applications. In an interview in March, Apple CEO Tim Cook offered an intriguing use case for the Apple Watch in the company’s own retail stores.

“The list that we’ve come up with is really long. But frankly speaking, as we open it up for developers, it’s going to get a lot longer,” Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg. “And of course, we have iBeacon over on the side that a lot of people have forgotten about — a very interesting technology that we’re using in our stores. And you can imagine a future connection there that is interesting.”

The Watch has been open to all developers for less than a month, and there are already over 3000 applications a few days after the first devices shipped. We took a look at a few of the best ways brick-and-mortar businesses are using the Apple Watch to open doors, deliver recipes and even order burritos.

The burrito giant made news earlier this month when it announced that it would partner with logistics startup Postmates for delivery in a handful of larger markets. It turns out that the delivery announcement was a necessary predecessor to another announcement later last week: an Apple Watch app.

The company has launched an app for the device that allows users to order food with a tap of a button. The only catch to the app, which also lets you track the status of the order, is that you need to have previously placed an order on its smartphone app or website and have kept credit card information on file.

Too busy to pull out a phone to pay for that iced coffee? You can pay with a flick of your wrist at select Starbucks locations. The coffee company has rolled out an app for the Apple Watch that uses Passbook to surface you’re Starbucks loyalty card on the watch.

Expect to see more payment applications for the Watch as companies begin to play around with the Apple Pay integrations into the watch. Apple seems to believe that Watch may add a new level convenience over the credit card to help push Apple Pay over the edge.

Starwood Hotels
Maybe the most convenient branded application launched so far, Starwood Hotels has solved one of the most vexing problems about the modern hotel stay: losing the room card. The company has extended functionality, released last November, that allows users to open their room doors via its smartphone app to its first Apple Watch application. During a pitch for the Apple Watch in March, Tim Cook told the audience that Apple Watch would open doors at “some of the best hotels in the world.”

Marsh Supermarkets
Marsh Supermarkets is working with Los Angeles-based startup InMarket to install a system in its stores that will use Bluetooth beacons to “wake up” applications on the Apple Watch and deliver relevant content to shoppers’ wrists. Shoppers with the Marsh app or one of twenty other applications participating in InMarkets network installed on their Apple Watch or smartphone can decide to receive push notifications upon entering the store.

Steven Jacobs is Street Fight’s deputy editor.