Do Not Disturb While Driving and Emergency SOS are the two features I strongly recommend you enable. Why? Safety, both yours and others.
First, let’s look at Do Not Disturb While Driving. This is a LONG overdue feature on the iPhone. There have been third party apps for this for years on the Android platform. Apple is really well behind in bringing this to the iPhone, but fortunately, it’s finally here.
What does it do? Simple, temporarily disables all your notifications while you are driving. Perhaps more importantly, it also sends an auto-reply to anyone who sends you a text message to let them know you are driving and won’t see the notification that you received a new text. Uniquely, it also includes instructions on how to resend your text and force it through as “urgent”, bypassing the Do Not Disturb in the event of an emergency.
To enable this feature, go to your Settings app on your iPhone and then scroll down until you see Do Not Disturb.
Once there, scroll down until you see the options for setting up Do Not Disturb While Driving. I have mine set to enable when my iPhone connects to my car’s Bluetooth. You can also have it enable itself automatically based on sensing motion from your iPhone’s accelerometer. This setting will enable it whenever you are in a moving vehicle, whether you are the driver or not.
I recommend setting it to auto-reply to all contacts and I set a custom message, to let anyone know who texts me that I’m driving and won’t see their message.
Apple included a unique emergency feature that informs the sender of the text message that if they reply to the auto-reply message they receive with the word “urgent”, it will push the message through, delivering a notification and your original text, so that your message will get through.
In state’s like New Hampshire, where I live, holding your phone to even look at it is illegal, let alone actually use it. This feature should really help drive the point home about distracted driving. I still see far too many people texting or looking at their phones. If you can’t get the alert that you have a new text message, his should go a long way to discouraging people from looking at their phones and becoming distracted. I try really hard not to be distracted by my phone, yet I know that I still do at times. I enabled this immediately and won’t go back. You should too.
The other feature I highly recommend enabling is called Emergency SOS. It is also found in the Settings app.
This feature enables an emergency calling feature, activated by rapidly pressing the sleep/wake button five times to initiate the call. You can set it to Auto Call when activated and you may also set a countdown tone if you want to know that you have activated the feature. I think this audible indicator is a good idea. If you have an Apple Watch, you may be familiar with this emergency calling feature. It’s activated by default on the watch and I accidentally triggered it while skiing in Colorado last winter. It caused undue panic for my wife as I was not alerted that I activated it. I received a call from the local emergency dispatch center asking if I was alright, followed by a frantic call from my wife, as she is designated as my emergency contact and was texted my accidental SOS along with my location on a map.
All that said, if you were in a dangerous situation involving hostilities, the ability to trigger the emergency call without calling attention to yourself could be a good thing. So decide what is best for you.
Be sure you setup your emergency contacts in the Health app if you enable Emergency SOS. Hopefully you will never need to use it.