A study by the University of York showed that bystanders rate mobile-phone conversations more noticeable, intrusive, and annoying than conversations conducted face-to-face. While volume was an issue, hearing only half a discussion also seemed to up the irritation factor.
Besides, mobile-phone conversations are judged more negatively than loud conversations. Participants even said that the volume of the mobile-phone conversations was more annoying than those that occurred face-to-face, even though the volume was the same.
The research tries to advise some direction in “building” devices that care about those kind of “social usability”.
Usability from a bystander point of view. as we’ll spent always more time in using media devices in public spaces, as info goes spreading to public space, we see new kinds of social and usability aspects: personal device in public space, privacy, “galateo”, tech-social rules, etc.