Let The Monkey Take Messages

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to remember the dangers of using a cellphone while driving.

As we well know here in Hawaii, as well as in most of this country, talking or texting on your cell phone is taboo.

Thirty-nine states now ban texting while driving, and 10 states prohibit any use of a cell phone without a hands-free device.

As I’m sure you’ve seen, just because it’s law doesn’t mean drivers are using their phones any less frequently. Every day I see at least five drivers on their cell phones, despite the law in place. Interestingly, a recent study done by AT&T shows that adults text behind the wheel more than teens, even though 98 percent of adults admit to knowing it’s dangerous. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted-driving crashes in 2010 alone. CNN reported that there is an accident or death in America related to texting and driving every day. Locally, more than 25,000 people have been talking or texting while driving (not including the 2012 numbers).

You may remember an app I wrote about last December called Monkey Message. I wanted to mention this Hawaii-made app again in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This safety app is designed to receive and send text messages completely hands-free through voice recognition.

How it works: An incoming text message is received. Monkey Message alerts you with a sound bit and says, “New message from John. Message is ‘How is the weather?'” Monkey Message then asks you, “Do you want to reply?” User can respond by saying, “Yes” or “No.” If “Yes,” Monkey says, “Speak now.” User speaks message into phone. Once finished, Monkey replays user reply and asks for confirmation, “Do you want to send?”

You can either send, cancel or re-record message. If confirmed, Monkey Message transcribes your voice recording into a text message and sends it back to contact.

From receiving the text to sending, Monkey Message allows you to communicate by texting without taking your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel, while keeping your focus on where it needs to be. Drive safely – the trial version is free (10 messages), and the pro version is 99 cents (Android devices only).

Click Chick’s Mobile App of the Week: Google Field Trip

Last year Google launched its Field Trip app for the Android platform, and now it’s available for your iOS device. The app grabs your location and shows you nearby points of interest, ranging from restaurants, parks, art shows and cool shops to historical factoids about the area you’re in.

It uses Google to pull in tips from a variety of blogs and publications to send you a push notification when you’re near something of interest. It’s not just for walking, but will give you notices as you’re driving, too. From my own use, I notice it pulls much of the data from Zagat and Arcadia Publishing (for the historical information).

Download Field Trip for free from the iTunes App Store or the Android Market.