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Driving You to Distraction

Nokia-Samsung-windows-phone-8-Techsemo

Windows Phone 8 is getting a nifty new feature:

Something that may appeal to motorists: a new Driving Mode will automatically silence incoming calls and texts so that you can focus on the road. You also can configure the feature to automatically send out a reply to say that you're driving.

It can be activated automatically when the phone is linked wirelessly with a Bluetooth device in the car, such as a headset. Apple has a Do Not Disturb feature for iPhones, but that needs to be turned on manually.

What the Driving Mode won't do, however, is block outgoing calls or texts. And there will be ways to override it. The feature won't stop a teenager from texting while driving, but it will help reduce distractions for those who want that, says Greg Sullivan, director for Microsoft's Windows Phone business.

During six years of iPhone use over three different models, I had to turn off the "Ask to Join Networks" feature under WiFi -- and leave it off. Every time I drove somewhere, it would pick up local WiFi routers for just a few seconds each, and ask me each and every time if I wanted to join them. The popups were a noisy nuisance. The M7 motion chip in the new iPhone 5S tells the phone when it thinks you're driving, and automatically stops hunting for WiFi networks for the duration of the trip. I like that a lot, and have switched "Ask to Join Networks" back on for the first time since 2007.

But this Windows Phone feature would be a very nice addition to iOS 7.1.

Hint, hint.