The iPhone's Best New Feature Does Nothing At All

Jun 05, 2017

Apple on Monday unveiled a cornucopia of new gadgets and software upgrades, including a new Siri-powered smart speaker, a souped up iMac Pro, and a refreshed version of iOS, the operating system powering iPhones and iPads.

But tucked in-between the razzle-dazzle of flashy new tech was perhaps the most consequential news of the day: iPhones with that upcoming version of iOS will detect when you're driving, and silence incoming notifications.

The feature, called Do Not Disturb While Driving, could help prevent distracted driving. Such incidents killed nearly 3,500 people in 2015, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, with 391,000 lesser injuries. (That data includes distractions other than gadgets). The feature comes as Apple and other technology companies have faced increasing pressure to address texting-while-driving.

Of course, the feature isn't perfect. An override switch meant to be used by passengers could just as easily be used by a motorist determined to text and drive. Humans are imperfect, after all, and will never stop making dangerous choices. But it's a good sign that Apple and other technology companies are taking measures that make it even just a little harder to fall victim to our most perilous impulses, especially as it seems more difficult for us to put down our devices than ever before.

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