In past iOS updates, there’s always been one crucial feature that makes updating worthwhile. The arrival of iOS 7 ushered in a new design; iOS 8 featured Continuity; iOS 9 brought Notes improvements. You get the idea. In iOS 11, Apple is introducing a new feature for commuters: Do Not Disturb while driving.
Do Not Disturb has been a major part of iOS for years. With the feature turned on—typically between a certain time of day—calls, notifications, and other alerts will be silenced. It’s a great feature to enable, particularly when you’re sleeping. If you do want some notifications to squeak through, you can allow incoming calls from your favorites, so there are exceptions with the feature turned on.
Do Not Disturb works much the same way when you’re driving, and its importance cannot be understated. The whole point is to minimize distracted driving by blocking incoming calls, texts, and other alerts.
The feature is completely opt-in and can be turned on manually or automatically when your phone is connected to your car’s Bluetooth. So, the next time your phone detects your vehicle accelerating, you won’t be tempted to check your device once a spam email comes in.
If someone does send you a message while the feature is turned on, the system can auto-respond with a message that lets the person know you’re driving. Like Do Not Disturb, the driving feature can be customized for favorite contacts, so some calls and messages can come through. Similarly, if someone who isn’t on your favorites list really needs to reach you, they can type “urgent” as a follow-up to their original message for their notification to go through.
Incidentally, calls will be let through so long as your phone is connected to a Bluetooth system or other hands-free accessory.
For parents, the feature can be restricted so it can’t be turned off by their rebellious adolescent. That’s either good or bad depending on your point of view. There is also an option to bypass the system under certain circumstances, like if you’re the passenger of a car.
With the commoditization of smartphones, distracted driving has become a real issue. Do Not Disturb while driving is a critical feature and, hopefully, will encourage users not to check their phone when behind the wheel. It’s a feature I plan to turn on as soon as I download iOS 11.