Email-reading app for drivers

A New Zealand-developed phone app might make it easier for super-connected drivers to stay in touch by reading out their emails.

A New Zealand company has developed a phone app which it hopes will reduce drivers' phone distraction by reading out emails - until perhaps it reads you the one from the Nigerian prince which will make you a millionaire.

Web development company beweb's first app is Speaking Email, designed after director Mike Nelson said he couldn't find one to help him on his daily commute from Auckland's North Shore.

With police cracking down on drivers illegally using their mobile phones, he says more such apps should be designed for driving.

Mr Nelson said the ban on the use of phones isn't working.

"You just have to drive around Auckland 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 cites a 2008 University of South Carolina study showing that speaking and planning to speak is four times more distracting as listening.

However, beweb doesn't yet have plans for an app that will read out text messages or internet chat.

The app recognises disclaimers often found at the bottom of emails and tells you it is skipping them. An upgrade which recognises email signatures is being developed.

And hopefully any million-dollar offers from scammers will go straight to spam and your newfound wealth won't make you drive off the road.

The app complies with the law when the phone is in a mount and is only checked infrequently. Emails can be dealt with by swipes, rather than specific taps.

"We purposely don't allow typed replies because that is cumbersome and dangerous when people are on the roads."

Speaking Email is available free from the Apple App Store, but from October it will be listed at $US9.99 ($A13.89).

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