It’s hard to believe that only a few decades ago detective Dick Tracy was out of this world when his used wristwatch to make calls. But nowadays using a watch as a phone is anything but fiction. In fact, calling is just one of the many functions of a smartwatch such as the Apple Watch, which has made them valuable assets for many businesses too. But where features like push notifications about incoming messages and upcoming events have been fully embraced by the business world, handling business calls with an Apple Watch is an entirely different story – especially when VoIP is involved.
Down With Smartwatch Calls
Being able to have a device that lets you quickly check on messages and missed calls without taking out your iPhone is a huge asset – especially during meetings, where checking a watch is more discreet than conspicuously looking at the screen of a smartphone. However, it is obvious when a call is made from an Apple Watch, because unless a wireless headphone is paired with the device, everybody can hear the person on the other side of the call via the smartwatch’s speakers – which simply goes against proper workplace phone etiquette. Not only that, but office workers are typically expected to be constantly available during business hours, so they usually need to stay close to an actual phone and therefore making smartwatch calls pointless.
That doesn’t mean smartwatches cannot be used for business calls at all, however. In fact, when you are outside the office for whatever reason – such as driving to and from work or just popping out for lunch – answering or initiating a call on the Apple Watch is more convenient than taking out the actual phone from your pocket, and in the case of being behind the wheel it can be a real lifesaver, too. But even in these situations calls should be handled in the most professional manner possible, meaning that using headphones to be able to hear the other party and keeping a calm and focused tone is a must.
The Invisible Leash
One of the biggest pet peeves of smartwatch users is that they are simply unable to place and receive calls if their phones aren’t in close proximity because most smartwatches require a constant Bluetooth connection with the smartphone for all features to stay fully functional. But as always, Apple is ahead of the curve; since the Apple Watch Series 3, users who purchase an Apple Watch with GPS and cellular functions are able to access all the features of the smartwatch – including call management – even if their iPhone is out of reach. This particularly comes in handy for those business users who have to leave the office for a short period of time but still want to stay connected even without their phones.
However, there are two major issues with cellular Apple Watches. For one, the cell carrier of the smartwatch has to match that of the phone itself, plus the chosen carrier needs to support the cellular functionality of the Apple Watch, too. This is already quite a limitation, but then there is the fact that the iPhone has to be turned on and connected to the cellular network, otherwise you will only be able to place and receive cell phone calls via Wi-Fi – provided that Wi-Fi calling is enabled in the Apple Watch app to begin with. In other words, despite a certain amount of freedom that cellular Apple Watch users have, the invisible leash restricting these users is still there.
When VoIP Is Almost Out of Question
Although it has some limitations, handling cellular calls via an Apple Watch is still manageable. Things get complicated when VoIP is involved because there is no guarantee that cloud telephony apps will work on Apple Watch. In fact, it’s best to assume that the application is smartphone-only and to rule out using the chosen VoIP service on Apple’s smartwatch to begin with.
Admittedly, this is a blow for Apple Watch users, but since FaceTime and Skype are already compatible with the device, it’s safe to assume that sooner or later subscribers of VoIP solutions like RingCentral and Grasshopper will also be able to place and receive calls using their smartwatches – and look futuristic, like Detective Tracy…
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