My favorite from WWDC 2017: an auto-reply feature while user drives

Victor Barreiro Jr.

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My favorite from WWDC 2017: an auto-reply feature while user drives
iOS 11's new 'Do Not Disturb While Driving' feature tells message senders that a user is driving and silences incoming alerts. Senders also have the option of marking a message 'urgent' to bypass it

The 2017 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017) provided a lot of different bits and bobs that Apple fans could really get into. Chances are, many people are salivating over the new hardware upgrades and operating system improvements. (Read: Apple ‘HomePod’ speaker to take on Amazon, Google)

They’re great and all, but they were expected. Whether you’re a Windows, Apple, or Android fan, “more power!” or “better efficiency!” tends to be the name of the game every year.

What definitely caught me by surprise, however, was one little change in iOS 11 that could very well save my life or the lives of my loved ones in the future. It’s called “Do Not Disturb While Driving.”

The new feature, which will be part of iOS 11, is an automatic setting that will come with the operating system upgrade. It will determine if you are in a moving vehicle and will essentially prevent people in cars from using their phones.

People sending messages to a user will receive automated messages telling them the phone’s owner is driving at the moment. They can also bypass the function by denoting their message as urgent.

Those not in the driver seat can also tell their phone they aren’t driving, allowing passengers to use their phones normally.

Now, I’m a bit of a neurotic person, and I get an itch to answer messages when I hear beeps. Even though I can fight the urge to respond, it leaves me agitated or distracted. 

While “Do Not Disturb” modes already have their place on all sorts of phones and tablets on both iOS and Android, I’m usually also afraid to leave a work or personal message unanswered or leave people in the dark about my activity.

Automatic replies and urgency tags for messages are a step forward to providing peace of mind for people like myself, and would also let family members know you’re busy. 

Of course, for Filipinos reeling from the lopsided implementation and suspension of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, this is a technical solution to a very human problem. It creates its own feedback loop, and hopefully, disciplines Apple users into ignoring their phones during drives.

I look forward to seeing iOS 11 and potentially buying a new iPhone (assuming more powerful and robust phones this year), just for this one feature alone. –

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.