Most people might find it hard to stomach paying for a service that actually stops them from being able to do something, but when it comes to texting while driving, T-Mobile thinks at least some customers might bite. For $4.99 a month, you can sign up for DriveSmartPlus, the first carrier-sponsored service that will automatically block texting capabilities if the phone is detected to be moving at a high speed.
It can even block incoming calls, sending them directly to voicemail. The switch is activated within minutes of the phone's GPS feature recognizing it is going faster than 10 miles per hour.
The technology is powered by a company called Location Labs, which says it could bring it out to more phones and more mobile providers. The introductory service is available through T-Mobile, and only on Android smartphones.
But how useful will this thing actually be? First of all, you have to make sure your GPS signal is on. That'll drain the battery so after a while, the phone will die and it won't even matter if you're driving or not.
Also, if you need to disable the feature because someone else is driving, you're on a bus, or you're expecting an emergency call, you can do that. But then you'll need to re-enable the feature. Will you remember to do that before the phone starts ringing while you're behind the wheel?
We're skeptical. It seems like nothing more than a piece of novelty technology, and tack on that $5/month price tag, there's no way something like this will take off. That is with one exception - parents can also put the feature on their kids' cell phones, and track if and when they ever disable it. For the parents who don't trust their kids, it may be a hit. But anyone who tries to market this as something for individual, adult users to sign up for will probably be disappointed.