Our Android and iOS smartphones offer a number of useful functions that enrich our lives. Some of them can actually save your life, but many people are not even aware of such functions. Sound detection is one such feature that can be useful not only for people with hearing loss. This is how you can activate these sound notifications on your Android or iOS smartphone.
According to the WHO, over 460 million people worldwide have hearing impairments, which is slightly more than five percent of the world’s population. This can have a dramatic effect on their ability to participate “normally” in society, but it can also threaten their own life. For example, they cannot hear a fire alarm and therefore lose valuable time if they escape the inferno.
Google has addressed this issue by expanding its Live Transcription app accordingly. Anyone who downloads the Live Transcribe & Sound Notifications app from the Google Play Store, will not only receive live transcriptions of 80 languages in real time, but will also receive notifications of ambient noise – a feature that has been around since the end of 2020. Apple was even faster than Google and introduced noise detection with the introduction of iOS 14 in the summer of 2020.
How do sound notifications work?
Those who activate sound notifications on their Android smartphone or activate the function in iOS can be informed of important and critical noises anywhere via push notifications. This includes a variety of sounds such as knocking on the door, ringing the doorbell, beeping home appliances, smoke alarms, barking dogs, babies crying, running water, and others.
If such a sound is detected by the AI from the smartphone microphone, you will receive a push notification. Additionally, those who rock on Android will feel their smartphone vibrate with a flashing camera light to take additional fail-safe measures.
Either way, it works offline so you don’t have to worry about every sound detected in your home being saved on Google or Apple’s servers. Note that neither Google Assistant nor Siri can be used while the feature is activated and that activating this feature will increase battery consumption.
How to enable sound notifications on Android
- Download the Live Transcribe & Sound Notifications app from the Google Play Store. This does not apply if you are using a Pixel smartphone as the app is already pre-installed.
- in the the settings, search for Accessibility.
- Choose Sound notifications. Note that this option may be named differently on smartphones from different manufacturers. On my other Samsung handset, it was in the Installed Services submenu.
- The first time you start sound notifications, select to enable them turn on in the lower right corner.
- Select on the next welcome screen OK, and your smartphone starts listening for potentially alarming noises in the background to warn you.
Use of sound notifications
You can run a short demo beforehand to test the functionality. I tried the activated service with running water, a few knocks on the door, and the ringing of my doorbell. I actually wanted to try the smoke detector as well, but burning my pad seemed a bit over the top for an Android tutorial.
As long as the sound notifications are active, you have the option in the settings of the app to select the sounds that you actually want to be notified about when they are detected. Here you can also set the different priorities of the tones separately and specify whether the camera flash and / or the vibration alarm should be activated. If you have an Android smartwatch with Wear OS, your watch will also receive a notification.
Google has a few tips that you should keep in mind so that the function also detects the sounds you want as reliably as possible:
- Position your smartphone in the middle of the room where you want to detect sounds.
- Do not block the smartphone with other objects.
- Make sure that other sources of noise in your home are quiet, including the TV.
- Sound notifications are always active and can increase battery consumption. So charge your smartphone every day.
Enable noise detection on iOS
For Apple users, the whole story is even easier, as the noise detection with iOS 14 was implemented directly in the system and can be activated there in no time at all. This means that once the sounds you want have been selected, the iPhone will listen closely. All of this happens locally and therefore no information exchange takes place in the cloud.
A push notification and a vibration indicate that a tone was detected. Of course, Apple also supports the Apple Watch with noise detection, so that incoming warnings are also displayed.
To make the feature work on your iPhone, do the following:
- Choose Settings> Accessibility> Sound Detection.
- Activate Sound detection.
- Enable the sounds that you want the iPhone to recognize.
As already mentioned, the function was surprisingly reliable when trying it out and is therefore a great relief for the deaf or hard of hearing. However, sound notifications can also be of great help if, for example, you’re sitting on the couch with headphones on and still want to make sure you can hear whenever someone rings the doorbell.
I am delighted with this feature and the efforts made by Google and Apple to take into account people whose physical impairment normally puts them at a disadvantage and to provide them with additional security and convenience via such an app.
Feel free to let me know if you share my opinion on this topic and if you have used the application yourself to a great extent. Feel free to comment on any other features that you think deserve more attention.
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