With the New Zealand Police this week cracking down on mobile phone driver distraction, a locally created app could help drivers concentrate on the road, while checking their emails safely.
Speaking Email reads emails aloud, so that users can keep in touch with work.
The app was developed by Auckland web development company, beweb, after director Mike Nelson got frustrated with the lack of such a product on the market. He wanted to use his daily commute from Auckland's North Shore into the city to listen to emails, without taking his eyes off the road.
Drivers should not be multitasking while they drive. But the current system of banning the use of phones isn't working. You just have to drive around to see how rife texting while driving is.
"So I came up with this idea of making it as safe as possible to use your phone while driving," Mr Nelson says.
With Speaking Email all text is read aloud from each email in your inbox. Email signatures, disclaimers and reply threads are skipped. You can listen completely hands free. If you have your phone in a fixed mounting you can also use it to triage your email – easy tap or swipe functions allow emails to be archived, flagged or swiped to skip reading. There is also a quick reply feature with pre-loaded text for a 'thanks' or 'ok'.
"We purposely don't allow typed replies because that is cumbersome and dangerous when people are on the roads," he says.
The app is available for iPhone and will be released for Android soon. It works with Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, iCloud and most other email servers. Microsoft Exchange support is currently in testing.
Speaking Email is currently available free from the App Store, to promote the new product. Mr Nelson says that from October it will be listed at US$9.99.
For more information and FAQs about the app, see www.speaking.email