Patently Apple reports that Apple was awarded a patent that would automatically disable messaging on the Apple Watch and the iPhone while the user is driving. The patent includes technology that would be used to determine whether the Apple Watch (or other wearable device) wearer is a driver or a passenger in the vehicle. From the report:
In one aspect, the present disclosure relates to a method, including receiving, by a wearable device, motion information from a motion sensor of the wearable device, determining, by the wearable device/Apple Watch using the motion information, that a vehicle is turning, and determining, by the wearable device using the motion information when the vehicle is turning, that a user of the wearable device is controlling the vehicle.
In some embodiments, this aspect further includes adjusting the operation of the wearable device while the user is determined to be controlling the vehicle, including wherein adjusting the operation of the wearable device comprises reducing an amount of notifications routed to a display of the wearable device. In some embodiments, adjusting the operation of the wearable device may include the wearable device ignoring a recognized gesture.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. Any time a safety feature is added to a device without the option to opt out, people get angry. This new technology may not disable messaging entirely, rather, it may reduce the number. This will also upset people who will feel that it doesn’t go far enough to be a true safety feature. As a mother of three teen/young adult drivers, I’d be happy to see any kind of built-in features that increase driving safety. I try not to check messages myself while I’m driving at all, but with that gentle tap on the wrist it can be tempting.