The earliest adopters of the Apple Watch are now in possession of the much-hyped wearable, but behind the scenes, companies are still scrambling to be a part of the action. The Apple Watch is expected to do well in sales this year, and it’s sparked an arms race among brands to get their name attached to the latest technology. That being said, the real usefulness of apps on such a small screen tethered to a wrist remains to be seen. An app’s success on Apple Watch depends on its target audience, use cases, and other factors. Not all are a practical fit.

We looked at a slew of FinTech apps currently or soon-to-be available on the Apple Watch, categorized them and rated each category on usefulness. Should you take or leave that budget tracking app? Read on to find out.

Stock alerts

Scutify, NewsHedge, E*TRADE, PortfolioWatch, Call Levels, Charles Schwab, Fidelity
Verdict: Take it

Daniel Chia, co-founder of Call Levels, believes the key to an app’s success on the Apple Watch lies in “properly providing push notifications on the watch to add value to users.” We tend to agree with him. Consider the reasons why you’d want to look at your small watch screen instead of your phone. Important alerts are the obvious answer. Call Levels also claims to be the one portfolio app that’s perfectly suited for the Apple Watch form factor.

If you’re loyal to one of the giants like E*TRADE (pictured below), Charles Schwab and Fidelity, their apps may be worth checking out – however, make note of these others: Scutify adds a social networking emphasis and has amassed a loyal following, calling itself “The #1 Financial Social Network.” NewsHedge is known for its audio broadcasts. PortfolioWatch comes with a fee for personalized portfolio monitoring, but it also allows you to manage your holdings, view charts, and check individual stock performance.

Trading stocks

IG Group Holdings
Verdict: Leave it

Buy, sell, and trade stocks on that tiny little screen? Where’s the fun in that? Admit it – you’d probably be holding your iPhone in your other hand, anyways.

Tracking spending

Unspent, MoneyWiz 2, Pennies, Mint
Verdict: Leave it

While all four of these apps have snazzy interfaces, that won’t matter much when you get annoyed from tapping your wrist all day long.

Take a look at the Pennies introduction video and you’ll see a young woman walking through life counting her spending. Yikes. Who wants to input all that data instead of looking up and out at life? If staring at numbers all day long on a 42mm screen floats your boat, fine – just don’t blame yourself when you miss that love connection because you were too busy inputting your toilet paper expense.

Multi-purpose banking

Citi Mobile Lite, DAB Bank, iBank, BankMobile
Verdict: Leave it

Again, this seems like a bit of a no-brainer. You’ll probably have an easier time with your account balances – and everything else related to banking – on your phone.

The Citi Mobile Lite app will allow Citibank customers to check account balances and view recent credit card transactions. The iBank app (pictured below) will feature account balances, however many of iBank’s current users on other devices are concerned and commenting that existing bugs in the company’s apps won’t be fixed. If BankMobile’s app is anywhere near as counterintuitive as its website, it won’t be a worthy addition to your wrist.

Account security

Verdict: Take it

In an ideal world we’ll know about fraud before it even happens, but until then, Apple Watch alerts will suffice. Bonus points to BillGuard or other security apps if they can get international coverage up and running ASAP.

Paying bills

Prism, Chronicle
Verdict: Take it or leave it

If you’re the kind of person who needs a nag or two about paying bills, then the bill pay apps for Apple Watch will probably serve you well. But for actually making the payment, a phone still seems like the better option.

Both Chronicle (left) and Prism (right) seem to be very similar in terms of features, however the interfaces are quite different.

Credit card rewards

Verdict: Take it

It feels good to know you’re getting some sort of reward when you spend money, and Wallaby will make sure that happens as often as possible. The app will tell you which of your credit cards to use at a particular location so that you get the most benefit. This could be a useful concept for rewards fiends on the go.

The bottom line: The Apple Watch is best fit for very simple tasks or notifications. Everything else takes away from the convenience.

(Photo source: Shinya Suzuki via Creative Commons)

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