• Apple Wants to Make its Watch Less Distracting for Drivers

The watch really can be distracting at times

Wearable devices like the Samsung Gear and Apple Watch didn’t exactly take off as well as electronic manufacturers expected, but they’ve grabbed enough hearts that they have been blamed for distracted driving from time to time. The Apple Watch, for instance, has been known to notify drivers of upcoming turns even though they are using their iPhone or have it connected to their onboard infotainment system. It’s also be known to tell folks that it’s time to rest while driving, or time to stand up, all the same. There are other notifications that come through as well, all of which can lead to distracted driving very easily since we humans don’t know how to ignore electronic devices to save our lives – literally. But, Apple is looking to fix all of that now, with a new patent that was filed last September and approved just this month.

According to the patent, Apple wants its watch to detect when you’re driving based on motion detection, and then change what alerts are sent to the watch, how many can be sent, and where you receive them. Apple even wants the watch to be able to determine what notifications are too important to ignore when you’re driving as well. This feature could potentially be customized by the user of the watch or even car manufacturers, the latter of which could mean that notifications are sent to CarPlay-enabled receivers or car speakers instead of the watch.

If you have an Apple Watch and have found the alerts to be rather annoying at times, this patent could be the solution to your problem. There’s no telling if or when this feature will make it into Apple’s lineup of mobile devices, but it could come as early as watchOS 4 and iOS 11 later this year.

An Answer to an Outstanding Lawsuit?

It was just a couple of months ago that a class-action lawsuit was filed against Apple in the state of California. That lawsuit stated that Apple has had the ability to block texting while driving since 2008, but chose not to do so. Here’s an excerpt from the complaint filed with that lawsuit:

"Apple has the ability to outfit its iPhones with a lock-out device that would disable the smartphone while being used by motorists. In fact, it has had this technology since 2008 and was granted a patent on it by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014. Yet, fearful that such a device would cause it to lose valuable market share, Apple refuses to employ the technology.”

One of the biggest complaints from Apple users about Apple potentially blocking texting while driving is that the device may not be able to tell the difference between drivers and passengers. But, this new patent shows that the watch could be capable of determining the difference. If so, a similar software in a paired iPhone could be used to disable text messaging while you’re driving as well. In the end, that may upset some and is the reason Apple never brought the ability to block text messages to the iPhone anyway, but at least the Apple Watch will be less distracting to drivers should the software described in this patent manifest into reality. What do you think? Is it a good idea or too invasive? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Source: U.S. Patent Office

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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