“Drive First” will be installed on all future Sprint Andriod phones, but subscribers must pay an additional $2 a month to engage the app. Owners of Android phones don’t need to upgrade as they’ll be able to download the app once the service launches, sometime in the third quarter, Sprint says.
The app engages GPS to determine when a cell phone is in a moving vehicle. Incoming calls are sent to voice mail while texts trigger auto-response messages. It also blocks all but three of the smartphone’s apps, in theory allowing just for essentials such as navigation.
The distracted driving technology allows parents or employers to control settings for each Sprint phone via a Web page. Although the technology allows for a user override (for emergencies or when traveling without driving), the Drive First portal logs the action.
Other upper-tier distracted driving solutions have similar functionality — such as Taser’s new Protector system and the TeenSafer subscription service — but Drive First comes with a wireless carrier’s branding, support and billing.
The Drive First app comes from the Location Labs, the same shop behind T-Mobile’s DriveSmart Plus, introduced several months back. T-Mobile had bragging rights to “the “industry’s first carrier-grade service” until now.
DriveSmart Plus is a full-featured subscription service that can be applied to all lines on a customer’s account. It’s priced at $4.99 a month and works with the LG Optimus T Android Phone.
Sprint limits Drive First customers to one smartphone per subscription, making $2 a month a better deal if two or fewer smartphones are controlled.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile said this week that the AT&T purchase of the company is not expected to affect existing services such as DriveSmart Plus for at least a year.