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How to use Theater mode on Android Wear (and why you might want to)

My variant on this complaint was a little bit different. I like to dance in my bedroom, in the dark. Totally in the dark, I will turn on Google Play Music, and I will have a little dance party. And every time I raised my wrist, every time my watch brushed my skin, it would light up and totally kill the mood. Then came the Android Wear 5.0 update and with it came the end of those bright screens with the arrival of Theater mode.

So, how do you turn it on, and what else is it good for?

This mode's name lacks vision.

Theater mode in Android Wear is easy to activate on any watch with a power button: double-press the power button to activate/deactivate Theater mode. If you don't have a power button, you'll have to turn Theater mode on through the mode settings, which you'll find by pulling down from the top of the screen on your watch face. The notification mode is the first setting you'll see, and one swipe right to left will pull over Theater mode, which you can tap to enable Theater mode.

While Theater mode is on, the screen won't wake up when you tilt it or touch it once, and your watch will not vibrate for incoming notifications. To turn the screen back on, you'll have to press the power button, or if you don't have one, you'll double-tap the screen. If you want to briefly turn the screen back on but keep Theater mode enabled, you can do so by hitting the power button once.

So, why would you want to use Theater mode? Well, outside of being a courteous movie-goer, Theater mode is also quite useful during the following times/tasks:

Darkness. Glorious darkness!

  • Charging. If you have a Moto 360, you know very well that while charging, it turns itself into a handy little desk clock. And if you can sleep with that kinda light on your nightstand, great. But I can't. Theater mode allows the 360 to charge subtly and allows me to sleep in glorious darkness.
  • Chores/repetitive tasks. Tasks with repetitive hand/arm motions will have your watch lighting up like a Christmas tree. Besides, you'll get done with your chores quicker without distractions.
  • Sleeping.
  • Dance parties. If you still want to get notifications, but don't want to get blinded, consider instead turning off tilt-to-wake. I actually keep tilt to wake off all the time now, and my watch can last two days when I really need it to.
  • Meetings.
  • Doing laundry. Wet clothes tend to turn on the screen, turning off your music and swiping away your notifications while you're hanging up clothes to dry.
  • Church.
  • Swimming or showering. Most Android Wear watches aren't really rated for these activities, but if you're gonna be a daredevil, at least Theater mode can help cut down on the water playing with your screen.
  • Class.
  • Driving. Keep you eye off your watch and on the road.

So, how do you use Theater mode? Share the insane activities you use Theater mode for, and what other activity-specific modes you wish Android Wear had, in the comments below.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

60 Comments
  • Not sure if it was fixed, but I tried using theater mode before in my Moto 360 and it absolutely killed the battery. I teied b it a few times just to make sure that's what it was and haven't tried it since. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How does a mode that forces the screen to be off kill your battery? I've never noticed such a thing on my 360. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm confused by this as well. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Liars Nexus 5 (AT&T)
  • @mcgeorgethirty6: https://youtu.be/fTHL0MAWkmY
    I've never had that issue on my Zen watch.?? Via Nexus 6: "Takin updates for granted."
  • You're doing it wrong.
  • I just experienced that today too! I have an LG G Watch R, I put my watch in Theater Mode when I went to see the Avengers. I also set my notifications to Priority Only. When I left the theater, my battery dropped from 90% to 30%. Unless the Avengers was a 15+ hour movie, that is completely unacceptable!
  • Do you mean to say I'm on a website with mobile news and y9u guys aren't pretending the apple watch invented everything? In other news, theatre is cool. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is Android Central; not iMore. ;) Posted via the Android Central App
  • As someone who was in theater and is now in television, it is very cool. And we acknowledged the Apple Watch on our social media feeds and directed our readers to check out the coverage on our Apple-centric sister site imore.com Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm just ranting because of another Canadian oriented website. I think they made a separate article for every app on the apple watch while saying apple changed the world. This post is refreshing to me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ah. Yeah, no, we aren't that desperate for clicks. iMore just has a giant list of Apple Watch app links, not a separate article for each one.
  • Yeah, I suggested that to them but they get 50 comments per article. Most of the comments are people complaining that they are fed up, but hey, they still get 50 comments. :p Posted via the Android Central App
  • From the reviews I have seen on the Apple Watch after first weekend use, many Apple fans are wishing they had this feature. It seems that there are not as many options baked in yet that let the user decide if they want the screen to stay on all of the time or if they want to be able to push a button to turn it on.
  • A very good feature, nothing more annoying and rude than glaring screens ... I have always used "Do Not Disturb" and the brightness option on my Gear S. I even mute my phone and turn off mobile data (because lack of signal in theaters can be a battery killer) all right from my watch..
  • I don't.
    I have the GWAR with Always On screen and I have my watchface designed to only turn black when the watch is charging at night. I don't really use Cinema Mode...basically because I almost don't go to the cinema these days (I'm not paying 8€ for a ticket when the Blu-Ray will later cost me 12€). On a proper Theatre, there's no problem with the watch because I turn off my phone, period.
  • Thank you for the advice. Google maps kills the moto 360 battery, I will see if theater mode helps in any way.
  • In the Android Wear App: "Gear" settings button in upper right > Block App Notifications > "+" button at bottom center > add Google Maps from the list. (This is for the latest updated version of the Android Wear App). Posted from my XT1080M
  • ? Via Nexus 6: "Takin updates for granted."
  • Google Maps kills every battery!
  • Were you serious about the whole dance party thing? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why? You going to join her? Way to go, Ara. If you dance in the dark you're better than most of us who practice in the mirror and pretend we're good. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Dead serious. Don't screw with my dance time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Okay... Now I get the awkwardness of going to the bathroom with music. :)
  • Helps me when putting my 3 year old to bed. Helps avoid the random light from the wrist and the half awakened question of "what was that" which can neither be ignored or half answered. Before 5.0 came out I'd have to take the watch off before going into his room. Posted via the Android Central App
  • https://youtu.be/129kuDCQtHs
  • The power of Rick Astley prevents us from clicking this link! Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Lol, never Rick Rolled anyone
  • I've got a toddler and a baby. They're fascinated by anything with a screen. Without theater mode, my watch would constantly be changed, on, and draining battery. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've used it and like it, but I've had a problem where I sometimes accidentally activate it while swiping over to settings, even though I swipe at the bottom of the screen. I'm using a moto 360
  • Same on gear live. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't swipe to settings usually, I long-press the button on the 360 to get to them.
  • I use it at the theater Posted via the Android Central App
  • I put my lg g watch in it all the time. I just got a stainless steel watch band from bestbuy and can't figure out how to remove the links, any suggestions? Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Use a jeweler's flat driver if you don't have a spring pin tool. Go in between the band and watch and press away from the watch body. Pull the band away from watch. Watch out, the spring pin may try to fly across the room. Good luck! I did mine and it was a great upgrade for the look of my g watch.
  • Or just use a solid kitchen (chef's) knife (one that you're not too afraid to use for stuff it wasn't designed for...)
  • Handy shortcut For Moto 360, press the button 4 times and it puts it into cinema mode and 3 puts it in sunlight mode. Not sure about the others.
  • Thanks! Posted via Android Central App
  • This KILLS my battery, within 20 minutes of turning it on. It's horrible. LG G Watch. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How? This turns off the screen, how does it kill it? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I put my LG Gwatch in theater mode and when I left the theater, it would not turn back on! I was tapping it senseless and NOTHING would work. I hope putting it on the charger brings it back. It was at 60% life when I put it in theater mode. If it is not turning back on because the battery is dead after an hour and a half in theater mode, then something is wrong.
  • Not really related but can you use the Moto 360 on its charging stand as an alarm clock?
  • Uh... Not really, since it won't play the alarm and it didn't show notifications until you pick it up off the charger. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What kind of person wears their watch while doing laundry? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Looking at this comment, I think most people are thinking to themselves: "this guy takes off his watch to do laundry?"
    If you're asking this question, I think your question should be a combination of "what kind of person does laundry?" "what kind of person wears a watch?". If you're somebody who wears a watch daily and does your own laundry, then generally we're looking at a pretty large middle part to that venn diagram...
  • You take your watch off to do laundry? Do you wash stuff by hand? Posted via the Android Central App
  • What kind of person wears their watch while typing comments on AC? Blasphemy! Posted via Android Central App
  • I have a LG G Watch R. Android Wear needs to add the ability to disable touch to wake! Every time I cross my arms it wakes the display! And the only way around this is theatre mode which disables viewing of the screen without pressing a button. Does anyone have a solution? The only solution I found was to purchase a Pebble Time
  • When I use theater mode on my G watch, I get about 40 hours battery life... Actually probably much more. Posted via N7 LTE
  • I find Theater Mode on my 360 useful when driving all day -- keeps screen off in bright sunlight when the constant motions keeps waking it up. Posted via Nexus 9
  • I use theater mode every night and when I'm driving, for the same reasons as everyone else said.
  • For sex.
  • In a related note, I find myself going into watch face select mode on accident all the time when crossing my arms or holding my tablet in my lap when it 'long presses' against my leg....anyone know if there is a way to disable changing it from the watch itself?
  • I have the same thing happen fairly often, I cross my arms and my arm long presses the screen. It usually isn't a problem as it only happens every so often, but recently I went to a game night and was constantly crossing my arms at the table or had my hands between my knees and the screen would touch my leg. It ran by battery down from 60% when we started playing to 6% in about 4 hours before I realized how much it was draining and put it in theater mode. I wonder if there is a way to disable tap to wake, like there is with tilt to wake.
  • I really wish there was an option for theater mode to still vibrate but not light up the screen, or to only light the screen dimly. The Pebble's dim backlight made it ideal in the theater to find out about important calls or texts w/o disturbing others. It also is an ideal combination for the RunPee app!
  • I use it every single day. I turn it on when at work, because I have a manual labor type of job in which I use my hands a ton, and only want the screen to light up if I press the button on my 360. I then turn the mode off while outside of work. Posted via Android Central App
  • All well and good, except the button on my 360 is more or less useless, so I have to go through the pull down menu :-/ AC App
    Nexus 6
  • Thanks for the info, and thanks for the mental picture of dancing in the dark!
    PS: I'm friends with someone who heads up a dance troupe, and I help them out in the technical aspects (sound, lighting), but the only time I've seen them dance in the dark was using blacklights and neon accents on their costumes. Of course, if it was truly dark I wouldn't see them anyways...
  • I still miss and prefer the old mute feature. You can actually do practically the same thing by disabling the turn to wake feature and the mute feature. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I didn't realize double-tapping the Moto 360 button would toggle Theater mode. (Reading instructions is for wimps - especially when I can't remember any of it anyway.) I suppose it would be good for Flight Mode, also, but have not done any air travel since I got the watch. Thanks for the tip.