apple ios 11 update do not disturb while driving

Do Not Disturb While Driving feature for iOS 11

Apple’s iOS 11 update includes ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature to block incoming notifications while driving

The topic of smartphones and driving has been in the news a lot in the last year.  There have been several high-profile incidents involving distracted drivers using their phones, and the government has introduced tougher penalties for being caught on the phone while behind the wheel in an attempt to reduce the number of drivers on their phones. However, a recent study by AA-Populus indicates that the changes to the law have had little impact on people’s driving habits.  They found that a fifth of the nearly 20,000 drivers surveyed said that they see drivers on their phones on every journey, and a further two-fifths saw it on most journeys.

With growing calls for phone companies to help reduce the epidemic of people using their phones while driving, Apple has taken the lead with their latest iOS 11 software.  The update, which launched yesterday, added a key new feature – ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’.  When it detects you’re driving, the feature automatically blocks incoming calls, texts, and notifications.  But there’s more to it than that.  Here’s our breakdown of this brand new function.

‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ setup

apple do not disturb while driving logo

When you going into settings to enable ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’, there are three options:

1. Automatically – iOS automatically detects when you’re driving and blocks incoming notifications.  The issue with this setting is that the phone has no way of knowing whether you’re a driver or passenger, or if you’re even in a car at all! So if you’re on a bus or train and have the automatic setting on, you could end up missing out on incoming notifications for your journey.

2. While Connected to Car Bluetooth This setting does what it says on the tin.  Rather than turning ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ on when iOS thinks you’re driving, it activates only when your phone has connected to your car’s Bluetooth.

3. Manually – Again, this setting is fairly self-explanatory; the feature must be turned on manually before you set off, and off again when you arrive.

There’s also a handy auto-reply feature which can be set up.  It works just like an Out of Office reply for your email, sending an automatic response saying that you have the phone in ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ and that you’ll reply when you arrive.  This auto-response can also be customised, and you can restrict who it is sent to – All Contacts, Favourites, Recent Contacts or No-one.  Unfortunately, there’s currently no option to auto-reply to non-contacts, but that’ll likely be added to later updates.  The auto-reply also offers an override feature.  In the case of emergencies, the original sender can reply with ‘urgent’, and the block will be overridden.

How will ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ work with other apps?

google maps phone in car

‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ doesn’t totally lockdown your phone while the mode is enabled.  Functions such as CarPlay, navigation and music apps will still work while it is on.  When the feature was announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the tech giant explained that it’s not about making the phone useless while driving, but removing unnecessary distractions so that you can keep your eyes on the road.  When demonstrating the new software, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi stated that “When you’re driving, you don’t need to respond to these kinds of messages.” in reference to apps like Twitter and Facebook.  “In fact,” he continued, “you don’t need to see them.”

iOS 11 is available now on all models from the iPhone 5s to iPhone 7 Plus.  And both Suzuki and Mazda offer hands-free software to help you keep your attention on the road when behind the wheel.