Retailers ready Apple Watch apps

The Apple Watch (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn't available for purchase just yet, but some retailers are already getting ahead of the curve and readying their apps for the wearable.

Target's (NYSE:TGT) is among the 38 apps that will officially be ready to go on April 24 when the Apple Watch first goes live. The retailer's app doesn't yet take advantage of the device's potential for quick and easy payment, but it does aim to streamline shopping trips for consumers.

The app works with beacons to track where shoppers are in the store, can sort a shopping list the user makes using their iPhone app, shows them how to get to the next item on their list, and can even send a reminder if they're near something they meant to pick up.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) are also slated to have apps ready and waiting on day one, but one retail name absent from the list was Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). The e-commerce giant reportedly has one in the works, which is expected to function the same way as its app for Android Wear (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Amazon updated its Android app last November for compatibility with supported smartwatches, making it possible for users to conduct product searches with their voice, save items to their wish list and check out with the company's 1-Click ordering system, all from the convenience of their wrist.

The early development support for the Apple wearable bodes well for its ability to take hold in the mainstream. Many analysts believe it is the app support for such devices that will ultimately decide whether they thrive or fizzle out.

"An early indicator of [the Apple Watch's] ability to scale will be the software Apple and its developers have ready at launch," said Scott Varland, creative director for IPG Media Lab. "If people get really excited to develop for the thing, and what they develop drives sales and usage, the Apple Watch will be set up to have a huge impact in retail."

The Target and Amazon apps also demonstrate how retailers may need to reimagine certain features of their mobile apps to make for a smooth user experience and take full advantage of the accessibility of smart watches.

"I think watches will work better when the information is made more snackable—e.g. it's designed to be used while you're doing more important things, like looking for shoes," Varland said. "I think we'll see higher rates of engagement with wearables if only because they're more accessible."

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