Soon, Apple will introduce a new iPhone feature that will do away with that annoying — and dangerous — urge to look at a text message while you’re driving.
The feature, called “Do Not Disturb While Driving,” will be part of Apple’s iOS 11, a new version of the operating software for Apple mobile devices. The feature was announced at the WWDC conference in San Jose and will be part of the new iOS 11 operating system available probably in September, to anyone with an iPhone 5S or later.
Whenever the phone is connected to a car using either Bluetooth or a cable, or if the car is moving, the phone will withhold any notifications for things like text messages or news updates.
If someone does text you while you’re driving, the phone can respond with an automatic message telling them you’re driving and can’t respond just now.
The iPhone screen will also be locked to prevent drivers from using many of their apps while driving. Passengers will have the ability to indicate that they are not driving and disable the feature.
Users will be able to see Apple Maps, Apple’s navigation application, while driving — though they will be unable to input destinations. Other navigation apps, like Google Maps, will also work, although not quite as easily.
Drivers will still be able to use Apple CarPlay, of course, in cars that are equipped with it. Apple CarPlay is a car interface specifically designed to allow drivers to hear and respond to text messages using voice commands and to safely use other iPhone features while driving. It’s available from a number of automobile manufacturers, including General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, BMW and Honda, and works through a computer screen in the car.
Nissan has proposed adding a so-called Faraday cage to its cars. This would be a box built in to the car that would block radio transmissions of any kind from reaching the phone. That would be another way to prevent distracting texts while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eight people are killed each day in crashes involving distracted driving.
Car safety experts around the world are praising the new technology aimed at tackling the problem of distractions in a car. The system will automatically detect when someone is in a car and will block notifications and texts and stop drivers from opening apps on their phone.
This sounds like a great idea to improve safety on the road, especially when we’re seeing so many teen-agers in wrecks because they were texting. It will come built in on the iPhone 11, but apparently it also comes as an app that can be downloaded onto older phones.
But in my view there are some problems with it.
If a passenger can disable it, then so can the driver.
The intent is to cut down on driver distractions, but one look at the CarPlay screen presents loads of other distractions.
If the navigational apps are harder to manage, that adds more problems for a driver who’s traveling alone.
The very worst problem is that because some drivers are stupid enough to think they can text and drive at the same time, this app will be forced on everyone buying an iPhone 11 whether they want it or not.
Then how long will it be until the government gets involved? How long until a regulation mandates the app be permanently on and the buyer isn’t capable of turning it off? Like the mandated seat belt, that can lead to a ‘must have’ on your phone or in the vehicle and become a traffic violation in the not too distant future.
Eventually we’ll have no choice, except to leave our phones at home, but hey, it’s for your safety, right?