Why can’t your smartphones, tablets, or any of your touchscreen devices work with gloves on? Well, the reason is because they are based on capacitive sensing. Capacitive sensing is technology based on capacitive coupling which takes human body capacitance as input. Smartphones and touch devices that are based on capacitive sensing have glass and a layer of Indium Tin Oxide covering it. Indium Tin Oxide is a conductor and has an electrostatic field applied to it. The human body is conductive, and so when you touch the screen, it distorts this field.
The touchscreen devices are programmed to react to an object with the electrical properties of a finger. Some old and cheap devices have resistive touchscreens which allows you to use them with gloves but they do not allow multi-touch. Multi-touch gives features like pinch-zoom etc.
Gloves prevent the finger from distorting the field because gloves are a non-conductor of electricity. So the screen becomes non-responsive with gloves on and same for water. However, the newest capacitive touchscreens have been developed further to work with a broader range of capacity, including gloves. Of the smartphones around, the Nokia Lumia 920 is supposed to work nicely with any gloves.