The perils of calling or texting and driving are well-known, so using smartphones and their capabilities to disable their own features seems a natural fit. SecuraFone is an app and service that can do that.
- $8.99 per month for Premium features
- Available at: Apple App Store, Android Market, SecuraFone.com
Before downloading and installing the app on an iPhone or compatible Android phone, you'll need to create a login and password from SecuraFone's website. After that, you can login on the app, which then links the phone to your account.
The dashboard brings up the map to track the phone and see the vehicle's travelling speed, but that's where the basic features end. Anything more requires a subscription of $8.99 per month.
From the settings pane on the website, you can change the SOS number and set a speed limit where an alert can be sent to you if it's eclipsed. The speeds are in miles, and there's no way to change it to kilometres, so you'll need to keep that in mind when making your selection. The SOS number you choose is the one that is immediately called when a user slides the bar to the right on the app.
SecuraFone's Distracted Driving feature can disable calling and texting when the vehicle is in motion, except it's specific to Android because Apple doesn't allow third-parties to completely disable its phone and message apps. The other issue that creeps up with text-blocking apps using GPS is that they don't usually distinguish between a driver and passenger.
The other downside is that a driver can't play music from the phone when SecuraFone is active in the foreground. That negates everything from playing stored music through an AUX-In cable to streaming Internet radio via Bluetooth. Getting around this is easy though – just run the app in the background and the music can play again.
It's also easy for the user – let's use a teen as an example – to turn the app off because it's not software that installs and runs no matter what. In other words, even if the app is turned off, the tracker – or parent – wouldn't be able to turn it back on remotely, as he or she could only see the last known location on the map. But if the teen at least keeps it running in the background, it can still do its job.
The monthly subscription allows the tracker to set a geo-fence and get speed limit alerts via text and e-mail. Remote text-blocking (Android only) can also be enabled this way. Map locations are historically marked in a log for 90 days.
As good as these features are, the subscription only applies to one phone. If you're looking to cover more than one, you would have to get another subscription. A workaround for this is to add more than one phone to the same account, though you could only track one of them at a time.
Given that it's new, SecuraFone needs a little refining, but that's likely to happen with updates moving forward. For now, give the full version a try on a seven-day trial.