Apple Adds ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ Feature

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s no secret that texting and driving is dangerous – last year alone almost half a million people were injured or killed in traffic accidents related to the deadly combination of texting and driving.

Google updated Android Auto last year so Android devices can recognize when you’re driving, block alerts, and send auto-replies on your behalf. Apple is finally catching up by including a similar feature in iOS 11, the latest update which is still in its beta phase.

Just like the iOS setting that prevents alerts, texts and calls when you hit Do Not Disturb, the new feature – Do Not Disturb While Driving – blocks notifications and sends an auto-reply when it detects motion.

To activate, you’ll need to add Do Not Disturb While Driving to your device’s Control Center. Go to Settings, scroll down to Control Center, then tap Customize Controls and select the green plus (+) sign beside Do Not Disturb While Driving. This enables you to toggle on and off simply by accessing Control Center from the Home screen.

Once activated, the feature allows you to choose one of three activation settings: Automatic, While Connected to Car Bluetooth, and Manual.

  • Automatic: Similar to apps like Waze that recognize when you’re moving, the “smart” version senses motion, blocks notifications, and sends your Auto-Reply message. The not-so-smart element of this feature is that your device won’t distinguish between whether you’re a driver or a passenger, so remember to disable it if you’re on the train, bus, subway, or just stuck in the back seat.
  • If your vehicle has Bluetooth capabilities, While Connected to Car Bluetooth is ideal, as it isn’t motion activated – it waits until you tether to the car to determine whether to toggle on or off.
  • Manual is self-explanatory – just swipe up on the Home screen and toggle on and off as needed.

DND While Driving comes with this auto-reply: “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going. I’m not receiving notifications. If this is urgent, reply ‘urgent’ to send a notification through with your original message.” You have the option to customize and you can choose who gets these responses: no one, recent contacts, favorites or all contacts by selecting “Auto Reply To.”

While some may never need to activate the feature, if you’re like my husband and genetically incapable of ignoring a ringing phone or are easily distracted by an alert, Do Not Disturb While Driving is a game changer. I’m looking forward to the bugs getting worked out and having it available for all of us.

To be an iOS 11 beta-tester, click on this link and CNET’s Matt Elliott  will walk you through the steps.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.





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