Mar 31, 2015
As a funeral director, there are two things you must remain vigilant about at all times: the time of day and incoming telephone calls or messages. Funeral professionals are one of the few vocations that must adopt an on-call routine and remain available 24/7. For many directors, being “off duty” is rare and multi-tasking is more than a necessity—it is a way of life. On April 24th, a little device called the Apple Watch will be arriving in the marketplace that has the potential to deliver some big benefits to funeral professionals.
According to MacWorld.com Writer, Jon Phillips, the Apple Watch is “not so much a watch as an experience.” Like a tiny computer on your wrist, the device is ideal for those who need to answer calls and respond to messages discreetly. It also offers multiple safety benefits to those who receive calls while in transit. Although some consumers may view the Apple Watch as simply a fun gadget, for funeral directors it can streamline after-hour duties while offering increased freedom and convenience.
The Apple Watch is meant to be an accessory to the iPhone and is connected to the phone via Bluetooth. Users must have an iPhone 5 or above. Apple will release three different watch collections: Apple Watch, Apple Sport and Apple Edition. Although they are priced differently, the technology behind all three versions is the same and they differ only by band style.
Only “time” will tell if this device remains a useful tool for many years to come or if it is just the first of many products to enter and quickly exit from the wearable technology arena. For now, we look forward to seeing how it enhances communication for funeral homes. Here are 6 reasons we think funeral directors should be excited about the Apple Watch:
1. Discreet Resource
There is a stigma associated with cellular technology. While cell phones certainly deliver a tremendous amount of convenience to both our personal and professional lives, at times they can be quite burdensome. Using or checking your phone during a funeral service or an arrangement conference may be seen as insensitive to those around you. This is especially true when interacting with older generations who did not grow up with cellular technology and often view it as an unnecessary distraction. Unfortunately, it is impossible for directors to disconnect completely as the call or message may be regarding a recent passing or family in need. It’s a terrible catch 22 when both answering and ignoring a call can be problematic.
Without a doubt, the most significant benefit the Apple Watch offers to funeral professionals is the ability to check call logs and messages discreetly. It is difficult to take out a cell phone without the motion being obvious to everyone nearby. However, a quick glance at an Apple Watch will keep you informed of new activity without ever appearing preoccupied.
2. Stealth Communication
There are occasions when a director must respond to a call, text or email within a short period of time. With the Apple Watch, funeral professionals have more freedom to communicate. The watch enables users to read and respond to messages, answer calls, listen to voicemails, read emails and more without anyone ever knowing you are using a cell phone. These features allow funeral directors to discreetly keep a finger on the pulse of their operations at all times. The watch will also offer a quiet, wrist vibration notification option which ensures those nearby won’t hear your phone ringing or buzzing. Like hidden earpieces for Secret Service agents, the Apple Watch can give funeral directors privacy to conduct business from anywhere without disturbing their environment.
3. Hands-Free Driving Tool
In your career as a funeral director, how many times have you needed to pull over while driving to respond to a message? How often have you needed to reposition a cell phone car mount to read GPS directions? These problems are likely to become issues of the past after Apple Watch technology becomes available. With a sensitive display, the watch will turn on automatically when you raise your wrist. If a call comes in you’d rather ignore, you can simply cover the display with your hand.
With Siri on your wrist at all times, you can dictate text messages or emails with very little effort. If an employee sends a message about an upcoming service, you can easily respond without even taking a hand off the steering wheel. The Apple Watch can also help improve navigation. If you’re in an area you are unfamiliar with, simply ask Siri for directions to view travel time and driving directions on your watch face. Map images will be optimized for the small screen. You can use the watch for walking directions as well. These navigation options will surely evolve over time as more developers create apps specifically for Apple Watch users.
4. Streamlined Tasks
In the funeral profession, a hectic on-call schedule can often make finding personal time a challenge. Over the past decade, mobile technology has given funeral directors the opportunity to conduct more business on the go. Gone are the days when directors were shackled to their desks at all times. The Apple Watch takes that increased mobility to a new level by offering tools that can help you complete tasks and communicate more efficiently. It can analyze the content of a new incoming message and suggests replies you can send straight from your wrist. The Apple watch’s microphone enables you to record quick voice messages to other users like a Walkie Talkie with a much greater range. These tools make it easier for employees to stay connected when outside of the funeral home. The watch also has a built-in integration with Apple Pay, a virtual wallet that allows you to digitize your financial information and purchase merchandise in less time.
5. Supports a Healthy Lifestyle
Funeral directors come face to face with mortality almost every day. They are reminded often how unhealthy habits can lead to a premature death. For this reason, many directors care deeply about maintaining their health and tracking fitness goals over time. Since the Apple Watch uses wearable technology, it can provide an in-depth monitoring of exercise and also help users remain active throughout the day. There are two separate apps dedicated to tracking fitness goals—one which monitors daily activity such as calories burned and a second which uses your fitness statistics to suggest exercise goals like a personal trainer on your wrist. The Apple Watch measures the many ways you move including your heart rate, speed, steps and even simple movements like standing up. In addition to tracking activity, the watch also helps to motivate and remind users to exercise.
According to Apple CEO, Tim Cook, “If I sit for too long, it will actually tap me on the wrist to remind me to get up and move, because a lot of doctors think sitting is the new cancer.”
6. App Integration (including ASD Mobile!)
Apple’s announcement about the forthcoming Apple Watch has sent countless developers searching for ways to enhance their apps with Apple Watch components. When we heard the news here at ASD, our Technical team immediately began to brainstorm ways we could make ASD Mobile accessible to Apple Watch users. Apple Watch users can now easily receive and respond to ASD Mobile push notifications from the watch. This will eliminates the need to use a cell phone when in a sensitive environment.
ASD Mobile is now integrated with the Apple Watch
In addition to ASD Mobile, many other third-party app developers have announced plans to create Apple Watch versions of their mobile app. Alarm.com’s app will make it easy for users to monitor their security with just a glance to the wrist. The Mile Whiz for Apple Watch logs all of your drives and helps you determine your cost/charges per mile for tax purposes. Users will be able to view traffic and flight information in real time from their wrists with apps from Whatsapp and American Airlines. These are just a few of the many upcoming apps that have been announced and more will follow once the watch hits the marketplace on April 24th.
7. ASD’s Apple Watch Giveaway
If you’re hoping to get your hands on an Apple Watch this year, be sure to visit ASD’s booth when we travel to a funeral convention near you. We will be raffling off Apple Watches all year long at conventions across the country. Stop by to say hi to the ASD team and enter for your chance to win!
Prior to writing this blog, I did not think I’d ever have a need for an Apple Watch. But, after learning about the many incredible features and benefits this device offers, I am now counting the days until April 24th. Without a doubt, there are many scenarios when it could prove to be an extremely useful tool for a busy funeral director.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com