Samsung's answer to incoming calls, texts, tweets at the wheel? An app that knows you're driving, replies for you

Samsung's new app will detect when you're driving and send auto-replies to incoming calls and social-media messages.

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In-Traffic Reply automatically activates once its owner is moving at 10kph/6mph.

Image: Samsung

Samsung has announced a new app called In-Traffic Reply, which sends automated replies when it detects that its owner should be keeping eyes on the road and hands on the wheel or handlebars.

The new Android app, due on Google Play in May, uses the smartphone's GPS or activity sensors to detect if the user is driving a car or riding a bike.

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It's automatically activated once the user is traveling at 10kph/6mph, and instantly creates a notification so the user can disable drive/ride mode if, for example, they're a passenger in a vehicle, according to Samsung's description of the app on Sammobile.

For drivers and riders who don't disable the app, it will automatically respond to incoming calls and notifications from social apps. Users can choose the default, "I'm driving, so I cannot answer at the moment", or an animated response. Alternatively, they can create their own custom message.

Samsung Netherlands launched the app under a beta test locally two weeks ago, as part of an effort to address phone usage while driving or riding.

Samsung's research with Dutch people found they often felt social pressure to answer their phone, even if they were driving or riding. Amsterdam is of course the bicycle capital of the world and that mode of transport is ubiquitous in the country.

Smartphone usage while cycling has created safety challenges, particularly for young people. The Netherlands government last year supported a campaign to warn kids against riding and using a smartphone. The campaign promoted an app that awarded points for not using a phone while riding.

The Dutch survey commissioned by Samsung found that a third of respondents used their phones in handheld mode while driving or riding. Many said they felt social pressure to respond to calls and messages quickly.

US regulators last year proposed guidelines for smartphone makers to introduce a driving mode feature to restrict which apps and services can be used by a driver.

It also recommended pairing to the infotainment system as a way of enforcing the restricted mode. It came amid concerns that smartphone usage has caused a recent spike in driver deaths.

Read more about smartphone usage

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