Sprint plans to make it a lot easier for its customers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and off their phones. The mobile operator announced that it will preinstall Drive First, an anti-distracted-driving app, on all Android phones it sells.
Drive First is an Android app that uses GPS technology to calculate the speed at which you are traveling, automatically locking down distracting features when it thinks you are driving. When activated, Drive First directs all calls to voicemail, auto responds to incoming text messages telling the sender that you're unavailable, and blocks all except three mobile applications of your choice, such as music and navigation apps.
An override button lets you turn off Drive First to return the phone's full functionality, useful if you are a passenger. However, override actions are logged so that the account administrator, such as a parent or employer, can see if and when you're talking while driving. When Drive First is activated, you can easily make a 911 emergency call.
Sprint will preload Android devices with Drive First, but subscribers will need to opt in to the service and pay $2 per month per device to use the app. Existing Android phones will be able to download the Drive First app, but details on how much the app will cost won't be available until closer to the product launch date in the third quarter of this year.
Drive First was developed by Location Labs, which also created the DriveSmart Plus app for T-Mobile. However, unlike T-Mobile's offering, Drive Smart gives users easy access to three apps of their choosing. While the developer and carrier are probably expecting users to select navigation and entertainment apps, there's nothing (except common sense) from stopping them from permitting Facebook and Tweet Deck when Drive First is in use.