When Do Not Disturb While Driving mode is enabled, the phone can block incoming messages and also automatically reply with something like: "I'm driving with Do Not Disturb on. I'll respond when I get to where I'm going."
Selected special contacts can reply with "urgent" to break through the phone's automatic message blocker.
The phone can automatic engage this new Do Not Disturb mode by using Bluetooth, if enabled, to check if it's connected to a vehicle. Alternatively, the iPhone can also use the doppler effect with Wi-Fi signals to determine if it's travelling in a vehicle.
For passengers, the Do Not Disturb While Driving mode can be disabled via the prominent "I'm not driving button" on-screen button.
Apple says the new feature is designed to "improve safety in the car" for iPhone owners who don't have a vehicle equipped with a CarPlay compatible infotainment system.
Last year, Google released a standalone Android Auto app for its smartphone OS. This app allows drivers without an Android Auto head unit to use a simplified interface for music, navigation and updates while during.
Other automobile-related updates announced today include updates for Apple Maps, including lane guidance, speed limit information, and floor plans for shopping centres and airports. Most of these features will initially only be available in North America, with worldwide availability coming later.
These new features will be available when iOS 11 is released to the public during the third quarter of 2017. The new operating system will work on the iPhone 5S, and all variants of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7.
MORE: Apple news