If you’re like most people, you have a collection of loyalty cards on your keychain. I had several for drug stores, grocery stores, bookstores, the local gym, and even the library. I even had key tags for places I no longer visited, such as stores where I no longer live and of course the aforementioned gym membership card. All these tags on my keychain were getting torn up and bent every time I stuffed my keys in my pocket.
When I got my first smartphone in 2012, one of the first apps I installed was Key Ring, an app designed to store all of these loyalty and membership cards, etc, digitally. All you needed to do was open the app, “scan” the barcode from your card and it was added to a digital database. You also have the option of taking a photo of both the front and back of the card to add to your records. The app had a widget for your phone that would bring up your loyalty card when tapped. So, when I went to the grocery store, I could have the cashier use the handheld scanner to zap the loyalty card displayed on my phone and I no longer had to worry about all the tags on my keychain. I counted how many tags I have stored on Key Ring. There are 17 key tags! Well, I now have 17 less key tags on my keychain, because they’re all in the Key Ring app and I can bring each tag up when needed.
Life was good with Key Ring. I use it almost on a weekly basis. I said that life was good because I bought a smartwatch. Since I bought a smartwatch, that meant that if I wanted to use Key Ring, I had the added inconvenience of fishing my phone out of my pocket and showing the cashier the digital key tag. Yep. Something I did on a weekly basis was now an inconvenience.
I contacted Key Ring and asked them when they were planning on Android Wear support. Their support department keeps telling me that Key Ring doesn’t currently support wearable technology, but they would pass my suggestion along. After I wrote back and informed them that I was writing an article about loyalty card apps, I did hear back from their marketing department with a statement that they’ve found that the barcodes don’t scale down well and it was a sub-optimal experience for their users.
Key Ring App is not the only loyalty card app fish in the sea. I searched through Google Play and saw several other apps and a few of them said that they were made for Android Wear. I selected an app called “Stocard” and downloaded it and started using it right away.
I’ve been using Stocard for a few weeks now and although there are differences in the way the two apps operate. Both apps say that they back your cards up to their servers. Key Ring actually has a web based interface that allows you access to your cards. I was able to go to Key Ring’s web page, access all 17 of my key tags and print out a hard copy. It’s this hard copy that I used to enter the cards for Stocard. Stocard does back up your data, but you are unable to access that data directly like you can with Key Ring.
Operation of both apps are about the same. To add a card, you just use your phone’s camera to “scan” the barcode of your key tag and add it to your database. You then choose from a list of stores. If your store is not listed, you choose “Other” and type in the store name. On Key Ring, you can also add a photo of the card. On Stocard, you can add an icon for the “other” card. You can then go to Stocard’s website to suggest that they add this card to their list.
Key Ring allows you to designate cards as favorites and display these in the apps widget for easy access. Accessing cards on Key Ring involve scrolling through a list of cards. Stocard displays your cards in a grid for easy access to each card. Stocard also displays cards in order of most used, last used, or alphabetical. I find that the Stocard widget is easier to use versus the Key Ring widget on my phone. I prefer to use the Stocard app on my watch just because it’s easier and more convenient.
I set a shortcut on my watchface to launch Stocard on demand. I’ve used Stocard several places over the last few weeks and each place I visited was able to scan the digital card on my watch without any problem. One such place was my local gas station. My gas station is the kind that has the clerk sitting in a sealed box. The clerk was able to scan my watch through the quadruple paned bullet-proof glass without any issues. I’m not sure the glass is actually quadruple paned or bullet-proof, but it sounds cool. So much for sub-optimal user experiences.
One area of Stocard failed to work as advertised during my tests. Stocard says that it will use your location and notify you when you’re in a store that your loyalty card is available, yet I was never notified in the several stores I visited during my testing. Actually, when I visited stores, I was notified by Google Wallet (on my phone) and not Stocard that I should use my loyalty card in that store. I can’t help but wonder that if Google Wallet ever adds support for Wear that it will replace both Key Ring and Stocard.
I should add that both Key Ring and Stocard have the ability to notify you of special offers and allow you to view the weekly sales flyer from your stores. I do not use this feature of the app and I chose not to test it for this review.
I’m disappointed with Key Ring. Key Ring has been around since 2008 and their website boasts that they’ve gone “…from scrappy startup to market leader…” yet they’re not supporting smartwatches. Stocard has only been around since 2011 and their app supports Android Wear. I just can’t help thinking about other “market leaders” that failed to adjust to newer technology and market trends and are no longer around for anyone to think about.
Unless otherwise stated, the Android versions were tested for this review.