It’s not safe to use your cell or smartphone while driving, but we all know how convenient it can be to talk on the phone or send a text message, especially to inform someone you’re on our way or that you’ll possibly be late.
The key to using your iPhone while driving is to reduce the number of steps it takes to make a call, send a text message, or check driving directions.
The iPhone includes a few built-in features and apps that might be useful while driving, and there a few third-party apps that can help keep your eyes on the road.
The Siri app available in iPhone 4S includes the most advanced voice activation features for making phone calls, sending text messages, playing songs, and much more. Using it while driving can enable you to keep your eyes on the road, instead of trying to type a phone number or send a text message, which you should never try to do while driving.
If you don’t have iPhone 4S, no problem, because the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and and 4G also feature enough voice control features that come in handy while driving. See my article, “Stop Tapping & Start Talking: Voice Control Your iPhone.”
I never attempt to type a text message while driving, but I do use an app called Pasties ($1.99 or Free Lite version) to send preset, commonly used messages to my wife and a few other designated people. With Pasties, you set up individual common messages (e.g., “I’m on my way.” “I’ll be late.” “Call me later.”) you want to text or send via email.
Pasties can also save you a few more taps because it allows you to set a message to a specific person in your Address Book. When you tap on the message it will paste it in a new SMS addressed to the assigned person, and then you simply tap again to send it. It would be great if the message were sent with only one tap, but at least it keeps you from typing messages while driving.
I’ve never liked the Favorites list in the Phone app of the iPhone. It requires 2-3 taps to access, and if you have more than a few people on the list, it can be difficult to read and navigate especially while driving. So this is where an app like Face Dialer (.99 cents) comes in handy. It allows you create photo icons of people you call, text, email frequently, and initiate contact with a single tap.
You can put all your photo contacts in one folder, or put the icon of the person you call the most on your homepage. By using this app you don’t have to hunt for a contact’s name in your Address Book or your Favorites list.
The ad supported Tatap Call free is another option that enables you set up phone icons for the people you call regularly. You can double-tap on an icon to make the call directly, or a single tap will display menu for calling, texting, and emailing the selected contact. The add-free version is .99 cents.
Also, don’t forget that the earphones that come with the iPhone are also useful while driving. If you must talk on the phone while in route, the earphones allow you to both answer a phone call and talk to someone using the mic button on the cord.
You press the button once to receive a call and press it again to end it. If you receive a call while talking someone else, you again press the button once to switch over to the new call, and press again to end it and return to the original call.
It’s not uncommon to need to search for an address or directions while driving, but again it can be a big distraction to do so especially if you’re trying to manually type a message. If you must do a search while driving, two handy apps, Google search app and Dragon Go come in handy.
Both of these apps have really good voice to text recognition features. And most often when you get search results, you can simply tap on the phone listing to make a call, or the listed address to open it in Map application or to get directions.
See my article Dragon’s free mobile apps to find more tips about voice to text recognition for the iPhone.
Let us know about the apps you find handy for safer driving while using the iPhone.