The Pocket-lint guide to smartwatch etiquette
We’re entering a brave new world. A world where you’re not (just) covertly alerted by the buzzing in your pocket, but overtly, visually and audibly by the device on your wrist.
The shifting sands of technology bring sweeping changes in social behavior. Just how will you survive? What challenges will you face as you step forward into this brighter future of the perpetually informed?
“Scientia potentia est” you’ll be thinking to yourself, but with great power comes the burden of great responsibility. As we explore these new frontiers, we need to be mindful of how we do so with the ever present smartwatch and the lure of limitless information.
Luckily, we’re going to guide you through the social mire of smartwatch etiquette.
“Ohhh, is that the Apple Watch?”
Like walking the red carpet, people will want a piece of you and your smartwatch. This polite enquiry will be something you hear frequently. Service your public, indulge their interest: you are the font of information, let them sate their thirst. A simple reply, such as “Yes, I find it frightfully useful,” accompanied by a pause for observation, should be a polite enough response, without interrupting your busy schedule.
More recently, this question might be “Is that a Tag Heuer smartwatch?”. Smile, nod, because, yes, it is.
“Do you have somewhere to be?”
You’re having lunch with a friend, business acquaintance, or romantic interest. Your watch informs you that you’ve been mentioned on Twitter. And again. And again. That casual glance at your watch signals your distraction and prompts the question from your companion. They probably just think you’re bored and are checking the time. Like your phone, smartwatch notifications need to be tamed, or it will look like you don’t care about the person across the table.
“Excuse me, do you know what the time is?”
This is tricky. On the one hand, this person might be asking you the time because they want to steal your wrist watch. On the other, you probably have a flat battery and have no idea what the time is. It’s probably safer to ask a police officer, or just sidle away.
Remember where you are
“Hi Mum? Hello? Can you hear me? HELLO!?!”
You might be able to take calls on your smartwatch, but this should only be done in the privacy of your own home. The moment you start talking to your watch in the street, you’re all Dick and no Tracy. You already have a phone in your pocket and that’s a premium solution for making and receiving calls. Please avoid the vulgarity of shouting at your watch and sharing the response via loud speaker.
Don’t flick the wrist in maniacal fashion
Yes, your smartwatch might offer some sort of feature powered by a casual flick of the wrist. When you’re wildly flinging your arm around trying to get it to illuminate or move through notifications, it’s time to stop. Accept that it’s not working before someone thinks you’re having a stroke and calls an ambulance for you.
Don’t air your dirty laundry in public
You might be on the verge of signing an important client, when your watch reveals the sordid details of what you got up to the night before. Remember your privacy, because smartwatches are surprisingly visible. Keep your affairs private by managing exactly what can, and what can’t, be seen in public.
Don’t be a smartwatch zombie
Beware of the ever present distraction of your smartwatch. It can feed you information all the time so ensure you don’t turn into a wrist-obsessed zombie, stumbling along the pavement oblivious to the world around you. You might step in a puddle of vomit, or worse.
Don’t be a cinema spoiler
Just as soon as we’ve heeded the call to silence phones in the cinema, smartwatches march in. Cue the incessant beeping, buzzing and flashing of the display. You’re watching a movie and so are 200 other people. Consider the world around you: just turn it off or use theatre mode.
Don’t make a show of putting your phone away…
…Only to sit there looking at your watch. This one will catch you out. You make a show of silencing your phone, putting it in your pocket or bag. The person you’re with has your full attention. Except you keep checking your watch sneakily. As above, don’t deny your companion your attention, or they’ll feel worthless, like everything else is more important. If you plan to keep up with the world outside, just be open about it. Otherwise you’re being inattentive AND sneaky, and that’s no fun.
But you could try…
The friendly hug glance
We know you’d rather be checking your watch than interacting with actual physical human beings, so give more hugs. Just remember to hoist your sleeve a little when you move in so you can check your notifications over his or her shoulder as you embrace.
Dress to impress
You’re going to a formal event. You’re looking sharp. You wish you dressed your smartwatch up too. Nothing looks worse in a formal situation then the distinctly casual watch you’re using to subtly browse notifcations during that boring speech. At least have the courtesy to switch the strap for something appropriate. And lose the Mickey Mouse face. Actually, just lose the Mickey Mouse face anyway.
“My other watch is a Patek Philippe”
People don’t want to know that you’re rich enough to afford both an expensive trinket like a smartwatch as well as a piece of Swiss horological history. Shameless self-promotion can only be vulgur. So don’t make excuses for your choice of timepiece, instead make justifications based on its merits.
“Yeah, I have a running watch too”
Smartwatches are really clever and technically they’ll do all sorts of things. But just like owning a Ferrari, sometimes you’ll need to take the Range Rover for the boot space. It’s the same with watches. Remember that dedicated sports watches are better at being sports watches. So don’t turn up to that 10km race wearing your newfangled smartwatch, when your old sports watch is the more natural choice. After all, no one looks good sweating into a cheap leather strap.