iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to amazing possibilities for augmented reality in games and apps. With iOS 11, iPhone and iPad are the most powerful, personal, and intelligent devices they’ve ever been.
There’s no way that we can convince people to stop texting while driving. It’s incredibly dangerous, selfish, and reckless. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed at least 3,477 people in 2015 alone. Many states have outlawed texting while driving, including my own state of Maryland, but every day I pass people on busy roads who are looking at their phones.
The only solution is technological. The phone itself needs to stop distracting you while you’re driving. People aren’t going to put their phones down voluntarily.
Apple’s iOS 11, coming this fall, finally offers a solution. It may not solve the problem entirely, but it will likely save lives.
Apple’s Next iPhone iOS Might Save Your Life
The solution is very simple, technically speaking. Your phone already knows when it’s on a roadway, and it knows that it’s moving. So the phone’s software–iOS, if it’s an Apple phone–can simply disable any apps that might cause distractions.
Apple’s preview of iOS11 says it will do more than that. It will not only silence all incoming calls, text messages, and other notifications, but it will text people back automatically and tell them that you’re driving.
You’ll still be able to use maps and GPS for directions, which is an extremely useful feature that many people just can’t do without (and that doesn’t cause traffic accidents).
This is a great idea that is long overdue. One big caveat: Apple couldn’t resist allowing passengers in the car to override the do-not-disturb mode, which I think is a pretty terrible idea. I doubt that the phone will recognize when a passenger just hands it to the driver, but I’ll have to wait and see how Apple implemented this override feature. I hope it’s really hard to do.
Google hasn’t yet said anything about whether Android phones will have a similar feature, but I hope they will. This is desperately needed, and it will save lives.
Google, the ball is in your court.
Steven Salzberg is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.
iOS 11 is compatible with these devices.
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 5s
- 9-inch iPad Pro
- 9-inch iPad Pro
- 5-inch iPad Pro
- 7-inch iPad Pro
- iPad Air 2
- iPad Air
- iPad mini 4
- iPad mini 3
- iPad mini 2
- iPod touch