Apple unveils ways to squash distracted driving in iOS 11; new Maps

Apple developers worldwide directed their gazes toward WWDC on Monday to hear what would be next for iOS 11 and other Apple operating systems.

For drivers, that could mean a new layer of safety to keep eyes off phones and onto the road.

Apple [NASDAQ: AAPL] announced Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, that it would include a feature into its new operating system that could automatically recognize if the phone was in a moving car and squelch incoming texts and alerts, including a quick-reply that the phone’s owner may be driving. The new “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature includes an option for passengers who can safely text and ride to their hearts’ content. For drivers, contacts can be “white-listed” and bypass the Do Not Disturb mode by replying with an “Urgent” message.

Apple Do Not Disturb

Apple Do Not Disturb

Apple Do Not Disturb

Apple Do Not Disturb

Apple Do Not Disturb

Apple Do Not Disturb

It’s not a far cry from current iOS features that already detect when a fast-moving phone stops and automatically marks the position as a possible location for a parked car. But it is a leap for the company whose handheld phones are dominating the attentions of millions of drivers every day.

For some drivers, Monday’s announcement included specific upgrades for Apple Maps, which is becoming the go-to navigation system for nearly 50 manufacturers on hundreds of models via CarPlay.

Apple announced that Maps would offer lane guidance to drivers and GPS-based speed-limit information. Both make Apple’s baked-in map app a rival for many navigation systems that have included both features for several years.

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Notably missing from WWDC were any specific mentions of an upgrade to the CarPlay user interface, or a broader support for third-party developers. Currently, only a limited number of apps are allowed to display limited information on CarPlay-equipped infotainment screens, with some key omissions. Already, Android Auto has announced upcoming support for the popular navigation app “Waze” and others.

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