Will Apple’s New Patent Put An End To Texting While Driving?

You hop in the car after a long day of work and find yourself sitting in rush hour traffic. You text your wife to let her know that you will be running late. Harmless, right?

Okay, let’s try another scenario. You hop in the car after a long day of work and find yourself cruising along the highway. You text your wife to let her know that you will be home soon. You get T-boned and end up in a ditch. Still harmless?

Those are just two texting while driving scenarios. The first one seems completely innocent. You expect nothing bad to happen while going maybe 10 miles an hour. You feel in control. You feel the same way while cruising along the highway. The only difference is that someone else isn’t in control of their vehicle. But this is something that could have been noticed if your eyes were on the road, not your phone.

As much as many hate to admit it, texting while driving is never safe.

Apple admits it. Being the manufacturer behind one of the world’s most popular smartphones, they realize the importance of keeping their customers safe – even if it means going against them.

Apple Plans to Block Texting While Driving

Apple wants to take advantage of their ability to make a difference when it comes to texting while driving. They plan to do this by introducing a feature that will effectively block someone from texting while they are driving. Simple enough, yet completely innovative and very eyebrow raising.

This comes with their highly relevant patent, which is referred to as “Driver handheld computing device lock-out” and, as you would expect, it is pretty self-explanatory.

What to Know About This Patent

The patent is not new. It was first requested in 2008. The concept behind the patent is that an app could be created to prevent people from using specific Apple computing device features, such as texting, while they are driving their vehicle.

The patent also states that this could be accomplished without having to modify the driver’s vehicle, such as by auto-disabling features when a certain speed is identified through motion detection. An alternate lock-out mechanism can also be accomplished with such modifications, potentially for greater results, such as by using vehicle signals or programming it within the functions of the vehicle’s keys.

That’s great and all, but it’s not necessarily something to get your hopes up for as the patent was first launched in 2008. You are only hearing about it in the news now because the patent was updated on April 22nd, 2014. This is very promising still though, as the update was to grant the patent request.

When Will the App Be Released?

Hold on now, don’t get too excited yet! Right now all you really have is a promising reason to believe that this app may actually come to life. Apple files patent requests all the time and there were even 55 other patents approved on the same day as this one.

The best case scenario is that Apple had already built the system behind this before requesting the patent. Still, this will be a bit outdated and not necessarily compatible with their newer devices. Even if they have a working system, it will take a while before it is ready to launch.

With an app of this nature, where it depends on certain indicators to decide whether or not to lock someone out of their phone, it really has to be proven for its accuracy. Just imagine someone getting kidnapped and not being able to dial 9-1-1 because they appear as if they’re driving, even though they’re locked in the trunk of a car.

So right now all you can do is look at this patent with a speculative approach. It would be very nice to see something like this come to life. There are already third-party apps designed around increasing security while driving. In fact, someone can download an app that will lock them out of texting while they are driving. However, these apps are downloaded willingly and this is not something that a lot of people will look for or do.

However, having a company like Apple enforce the technology by installing it automatically onto their devices would create a tremendous leap in the right direction. This is something that you could expect other major manufacturers follow suit with; in the future, you may see Samsung, LG, HTC, and many other smartphone manufacturers doing the same thing. It may even possibly come at the operating system level, such as directly through iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and etc.

There is much to find out about Apple’s intentions with this patent. There is also much to anticipate as the right people start to take a serious look into this potential new security feature. It’s promising, but again, nothing to get your hopes up about yet!