A couple of weeks ago, SocialCarNews told you about a new app called SafeCell. Using the accelerometer features available on most smartphones, SafeCell automatically disables phone calls, texts, and web access when it detects the phone (and thus, the driver who owns it) traveling faster than ten miles per hour. Now, SafeCell may have some competition from a new app called PhoneGuard.
PhoneGuard and SafeCell have the same primary goal: to disable phones in moving cars and cut down on distracted driving. And while that's a noble ambition, both are plagued with the same potential problems: cost, activation, and battery drain. But PhoneGuard offers additional features that make it a more valuable tool for parents and employers and which could give it an edge in the marketplace.
PhoneGuard creates an ad hoc network of smartphones, which can be tweaked and adjusted by an administrator. The PhoneGuard administrator can set the speed threshold at which phones freeze; set "time outs", blocks of the day in which phones are unusable (e.g. during school hours); set exceptions to the rules for users who request them; and receive notices about text, phone, and web usage on all devices on the network. Those are radical departures from SafeCell, which doesn't network with other phones at all.
Which will win out?
At heart, SafeCell works because of you, the user. SafeCell assumes that drivers are basically good people and that everyone wants to do good in the world, then rewards you for it. SafeCell doles out points for being a safe driver -- points that can be cashed in for discounts at Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers. It's a classic example of positive reinforcement.
PhoneGuard assumes just the opposite: that people are idiots and have to be watched. It's designed to leave children and employees in mortal fear of parents and bosses, respectively. Idi Amin would've loved it. Francisco Franco would've married it.
And that's why PhoneGuard will probably win.
At $24.95 (or $19.95), PhoneGuard is significantly more expensive than SafeCell ($11.99). And strangely enough, it's only available on Blackberry and Android devices. But PhoneGuard is clearly designed as a business solution, and businesses don't mind spending dough on an app if it promises to reduce fleet accidents. And since many businesses still have an aversion to the iPhone, PhoneGuard's platform restrictions shouldn't be an issue. And on the off-chance that they are, PhoneGuard is happy to give folks a free Blackberry or Android device, just for downloading the app.
We have no idea if either of these apps will actually reduce distracted driving, but expect more from app-makers and automakers in the near future. If you'd like a quick overview of PhoneGuard, check the video below. Curious types can scroll a little further to read a press release from the software developers, Options Media.
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Options Media Group Announces Availability of DriveSafe Software(TM) Anti-Texting-While-Driving Solution for BlackBerry and Android Devices
BOCA RATON, FL, Nov 17, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Options Media Group Holdings, Inc., a growing force in mobile applications, marketing and mobile social media, announced today the Company has completed development of its DriveSafe Software(TM) anti-texting-while-driving solution for the popular BlackBerry and Google Android mobile devices.
DriveSafe Software is the Company's next-generation, state-of-the-art mobile phone control management software designed to prevent texting while driving and enable parents and employers to monitor the driving habits of mobile phone users, including vehicle speed. The DriveSafe Software suite is available today and is easily downloadable from the Internet.
PhoneGuard's revolutionary DriveSafe Software disables the texting, emailing and keyboard functions of a mobile phone in a vehicle moving faster than 10 mph. By using GPS to track speed and coordinates, DriveSafe automatically turns off certain functionalities of the driver's mobile phone when the phone is in a moving vehicle. Thus, the user will no longer be able to text, email, surf the web or instant message while driving. When the car is stopped for more than 5 seconds, however, the phone will automatically allow texting and other data functions to resume. Any missed text messages will be waiting for the user. Once the user starts driving again, the software will automatically block these activities again.
"Despite countless warnings, newly created laws, and traffic fatalities, accidents caused by distracted mobile device continue to occur every day," said Scott Frohman, CEO of Options Media Group. "Cell phone use while driving, in any form, creates a dangerous environment for everyone. In order to combat this growing problem, we are pleased to offer our DriveSafe solution to safeguard and protect against the dangerous temptations to text, surf and type while behind the wheel. The user friendly DriveSafe software is now widely available for purchase and downloading and it's very easy to install and use."
Mobile phone users can now download the PhoneGuard DriveSafe software suite from the BlackBerry App World website at http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/search/phoneguard?lang=en, and the Android Marketplace. http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/tools/phoneguard-safe-drive_mhip.html. It is also available for download at the PhoneGuard website at www.phoneguard.com. Additionally, a live video demonstration of the features and superior functionality of the DriveSafe Software(TM) suite in action can be viewed at //www.youtube.com/watch?v=35m_sysVnCY and an overview of the easy-to-do software installation process can be seen at //www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJRcTSw6mEI.
Relative to other products on the market today, DriveSafe Software(TM) contains an advanced set of features including:
-- Time Out Control that enables parents or employers to preselect times
at which a mobile phone under their control should be disabled or
available for use to text or browse the Internet.
-- Speed Control whereby maximum mile per hour thresholds can be set
that, when exceeded; send out an alerting text message with the actual
rate of speed and geographic location of the vehicle.
-- Parental Override that enables parents or employers to override the
software and allow text and Internet browsing only when the user is in
-- Request Permission that allows the user to request permission from the
administrator by pressing a specified button to use the keyboard for a
set period of time. Permission can be granted or denied from the
parent's or employer's cell phone. This feature is useful when the
user is known to be a passenger in the vehicle, and not the driver.