This new smartphone feature should be used by every driver, from teen to seasoned commuter


Giving your phone a rest when you’re driving is always a good call, but the tools Apple and Google offer to help you focus on the road can be easy to miss.

Here’s a reminder of how to use them. Please read it and heed it before you head out for Memorial Day.

On iPhones running the current iOS 11 software, you should have gotten a prompt to enable Apple’s “Do Not Disturb while driving” option the first time your iPhone detected motion akin to driving. But if you ignored that, you should revisit this “do not disturb” feature, which suppresses notifications and only shows turn-by-turn navigation on the lock screen.

In the Settings app, tap “Do Not Disturb” and scroll down to change  the feature’s activation options. “Automatically” turns it on if the iPhone’s motion sensors pick up auto-like acceleration (so it will work if you’re in a rented or borrowed car), while “When Connected to Car Bluetooth” relies on the phone pairing to your car’s Bluetooth wireless (which avoids it being confused by non-car movement).

“Manually” requires you to activate do not disturb-while-driving from the Control Center. By default, iOS’s Control Center doesn’t show an icon for this mode. To fix that, go to the Settings app, select “Control Center” and then “Customize Controls.”

At least most iOS users seem to be taking advantage of this help. A study released in February by the Cambridge, Mass., insurance marketplace EverQuote found that about 80% of iPhone users with its EverDrive safe-driving app installed were using Apple’s do-not-disturb feature at the start of last fall.

That study did not cover adoption of Google’s Android Auto app, but since that app isn’t installed by default, odds are the figure is lower. This program, not the same as the in-car interface many car manufacturers now ship, has offered drivers a stripped-down front end for Android since 2016.

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