This is a guest blogging post by Erik Wood, the founder of Otter, LLC.
Since my young daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver, I have been pursuing tangible change to the text and drive epidemic. Our texting management app called OTTER (One Touch Text Response) has a built-in GPS / texting interface which allows the driver’s smartphone to know when it’s in a moving vehicle. OTTER then silences all chimes, ringtones and buzzes while sending incoming texts a customizable auto reply. Unless a Bluetooth is enabled, all calls silently go to voicemail to stop you from fumbling for that ringing phone. There is also a Parental Control features for teen drivers.
Our first targeted smartphone platform back in the spring of 2010 was Apple’s iPhone. It seemed like a natural fit for OTTER. However, we quickly found that the iPhone operating system does not allow 3rd party apps like ours to run freely alongside their software. Specifically I need to be able to know when a text is being received and I need to be able to access the volume settings for the phone. I decided to move us to the Android operating system which presented no such programming limitations. Next, we built our app for Blackberry and Nokia’s Ovi Store. Again we did not find these limitations.
What is different about Apple? Just to be clear… there are absolutely no hardware restrictions. In other words, the iPhone is a quality smartphone that could easily run our app. It is, therefore, a management decision to lock down the iPhone operating system. Is Apple doing this because they don’t care about an affordable text and drive solution? I seriously doubt that. I think Apple has a loyal following and they earned this following by providing a measure of security to their products that their customers have come to expect. I do think that if Steve Jobs wanted OTTER to run on his phones, it would be a simple line of programming code that could get us there. We have had many OTTER fans write Apple asking them to let us in, and so maybe it will happen soon. I know it will save many lives… and it would ensure that my iPhone toting wife wasn’t tempted by a distracting ringtone on her way home tonight.
Erik Wood, founder OTTER LLC
If you would like to write Apple about this issue, please use the link below and feel free to mention my name and OTTER.