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Apple Disputes Study’s Conclusion That Siri Is Distracting

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Apple's description of Siri

Apple’s description of Siri

Apple has responded to an AAA/University of Utah study that said, as this blog reported, that Siri poses a high level of distraction for drivers. Siri is an iPhone voice app, dubbed by Apple as “an intelligent personal assistant. ” The study compared drivers manually changing radio stations with drivers using voice-activated systems in vehicles from six automakers, and concluded that Siri was the most distracting for drivers.

Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac that Apple now says the study failed to test the in-car versions of Siri, namely Siri Eyes Free and CarPlay. He quotes Apple as saying that Siri Eyes Free and CarPlay use a vehicle’s “native” controls so that the driver does not have to pick up or look at a smartphone while driving. “These experiences are tailored so you only have access to iPhone apps that are optimized for the car and make sense for an in-vehicle experience,” Lovejoy quotes Apple as saying.

9to5Mac’s own review of CarPlay said that it holds promise but still has a way to go, Lovejoy writes, adding:

A range of studies cited in the latest WSJ piece do, however, conclude that while using voice commands for things like controlling infotainment systems is safer than operating controls manually, that only reduces, rather than eliminates, the risk of distraction.

Jacob Siegal writes for BGR that although most researchers believe that voice commands are distracting for drivers, it is necessary to have some alternative to looking down at a smart phone while driving. Apple and other companies are working on tools to eliminate some of the complexity of hands-free technology, Siegal writes.

As this blog reported, the AAA/University of Utah study also looked at Toyota’s Entune system, Hyundai’s Blue Link, Chrysler’s Uconnect, Ford’s SYNC with MyFord Touch, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND, and General Motors’s MyLink. The study found Entune to be the least distracting. AAA asked developers to make changes to in-vehicle systems so that they are no more distracting than listening to the radio or an audiobook, this blog wrote.

We also quoted a statement from the National Safety Council Senior Director of Transportation David Teator:

‘Most auto companies prevent moving video from being seen by drivers while a vehicle is in motion. Extending this kind of limitation to drivers’ use of phones and internet would be a significant life-saving move by the industry.’


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