Q. How do those apps that block phone texting while driving know when to turn on? Do you need special hardware?
A. Smartphone apps that temporarily disable incoming text messages and other driving distractions can be turned on manually before the driver starts the car, or can kick in automatically when the phone’s motion sensor detects an appropriate amount of acceleration. Some distracted-driving solutions, like the subscription-based Cellcontrol, use a combination of hardware and software to block smartphone activity as soon as the car begins to move, but many apps rely on information from the phone’s own hardware.
If you are looking for a solution to stifle attention-grabbing activity coming from the phone, visit your app store and search for “distracted driving” apps. Programs like DriveSafe Mode, LifeSaver and TrueMotion Family (all for Android and iOS) are geared for teenagers — and their parents who wish to monitor their activity. Other apps, like Drivemode for Android, use voice commands and a simplified interface to make driving alone with an active smartphone easier.
AT&T has its own free DriveMode app for Android and iOS devices, and you do not need to be an AT&T subscriber to use the software. Once installed, the app automatically kicks in to shut down notifications when the car reaches 15 miles per hour. For text messages, the app can also send an automatic reply that tells the sender you are driving at the moment and will make contact later. For parents installing the app on their children’s phones, the program automatically sends a message if the teenager disables the software.
Depending on your phone, you may not need an additional app to thwart distractions. For example, Apple’s new iOS 11 software includes an extension of its Do Not Disturb feature for driving that automatically blocks calls, messages and app notifications when the iPhone makes a Bluetooth connection to the car’s dashboard.
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