Friday, December 25, 2009

Drive Safely Review

I've written before about the problem of teens texting while driving, and solutions to help control it, by preventing texting when the phone is moving fast. takes a different approach. It reads the text aloud, and auto-replies to notify the sender that the recipient is driving and unavailable (or whatever you want it to say).

I don't actually get many texts while driving, so I had to contrive to have a few sent to me to have it tested. It does seem to do a good job of speech-synthesis for texts. It also supposedly reads email, but that hasn't worked for me--maybe because I only have the trial version.

So in addition to the core feature of speech synthesis, the key features are:
  1. Status bar icon for quick access.
  2. Large toggle button for on/off. This, combined with #1, make it easy to turn on while driving--in case you forget to do so in advance.
  3. Cutomizeable, auto-send of a reply, to explain your current status (e.g., "your text was read aloud to the John, who is driving and can't reply right now.").
#3, the auto-reply, is the feature that seals the deal. It fills in a gaping hole in texting technology--the need for status notification. It drives me CRAZY when my kids (say they) can't stop a texting conversation pronto, because the people they are texting won't understand and will think they are being rude. This feature solves that problem. So I actually see it is as being applicable outside the case of driving--any time when you aren't in a position to reply to a text.

So the bottom line is that, based on my very limited testing, this seems like a well-conceived, useful app. At $13.95, the price is grossly excessive, however. As far as missing features, I would like to see in the future:
  1. Ability to select from a customized list of pre-set auto-replies.
  2. Ability to read already-received messages. The typical use-case I can think of is you are driving, you forget to turn it on, and you realize you just got a message. Now you want to turn it on and listen to that message. I would think the way it should work is based on a customizeable default for "read messages received in last X minutes app is started".
  3. Ability to re-read a message if requested.


  1. What a great application, serves a great purpose. I may even pay a couple of bucks more than that unless cheaper similar software is available. It will be interesting discussing those topics with mu kids one day.

    It's like having an 'I don't exist button'; I like it.

  2. Yep, the "I don't exist" button is a missing feature in texting.

  3. Anonymous19:48

    This may be off of the point, but I just have to say it...Do we really have to be available ALL of the time, even when we are in the car, DRIVING? I personally need a little time for myself. Ignoring a text while driving has become the modern day equivalent of not answering the phone during dinner.

  4. From a standpoint of personal philosophy, I am sympathetic to this viewpoint. This is one of the reasons I think texting is a defective technology--people treat it somewhat like IM, but at least with IM you can post your status.

    Personal philosophy aside, though, I'm always interested in what technology can do and how it is being used.