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Turning This iPhone Setting On Could Alert You To An Emergency


Have you ever been worried that you won’t know immediately if something goes wrong in your home? At one point or another, we’ve all accidentally left the sink running or forgotten to turn an appliance off. Fortunately, Apple has a fix for that: iPhone Sound Recognition.  

This useful feature uses Siri (the voice-commanded, virtual assistant on your phone) to detect sounds in and around your home. Once you turn it on, your phone will send you notifications when it detects noises like shouting, glass breaking, water running, or even a person coughing. And it’s easy to set up! Keep reading to find out how. 

How to Use iPhone Sound Recognition 

To find out exactly how this iPhone trick works, I followed Apple’s guidelines for turning on sound recognition. First, I tapped on the Settings application on my main screen. Then, I scrolled down to Accessibility and tapped it. Inside Accessibility, I scrolled down to Sound Recognition and tapped it.

Once I was inside Sound Recognition, I turned it on tapped Sounds. From there, I could explore the sounds that were available and turned on the ones I thought would be useful.

I was impressed by the list of sounds that Apple claims to detect, including: 

  • Alarms: sirens, smoke, and fire. 
  • Animals: cat or dog.  
  • Household noises: appliances, car horn, doorbell, door knock, water running. 
  • People: baby crying, shouting, coughing.  

I had to test it out. I turned on the tap water and quickly saw a notification on my phone, which read, “A sound has been recognized that may be water running.”

Coughing, turning on the microwave, and knocking on the door all produced notifications as well. However, I noticed that my phone had a difficult time detecting sounds from a distance, because I use a waterproof case that covers the microphone at the bottom of the phone. When I removed the case, it was able to pick up noises from a room over. So, keep that in mind if you have a heavy-duty case.  

Bonus: If you upgrade your software to iOS 15, you will be able to turn on notifications for additional sounds, including glass breaking and a kettle whistling. To update your software, go to Settings, scroll down and click General, then tap Software Update. If you haven’t yet updated your phone to iOS 15, the update should be available.  

The Pros and Cons of iPhone Sound Recognition  

If you have hearing loss, iPhone sound recognition is an excellent tool to help you become more aware of your surroundings. It might also be a helpful trick for your elderly relatives and loved ones who perhaps don’t always know if they left the kettle on, or if a kitchen appliance is still running. Setting up a relative’s phone to send alerts for different sounds could give them more independence. 

For everyday use, however, sound recognition won’t replace a full home alarm system, as Apple makes clear. In the Sound Recognition page, the company posted a notice that reads, “Sound Recognition should not be relied upon in circumstances where you may be harmed or injured, in high-risk or emergency situations, or for navigation.”  

I also noticed that the notifications became a nuisance when I was using my phone. When I played a video of a performer singing, I got a notification that someone was shouting. (Or maybe that was my phone’s opinion on the singing quality … who’s to say?) I got several other random messages while playing videos out loud as well.  

Ultimately, this is a great trick if you or a loved one need a little extra assistance hearing everyday sounds. But if you like to browse Facebook and watch videos on your phone, you will probably need to turn off sound recognition while you scroll, so you aren’t bombarded with notifications! For other iPhone tricks, check out this tip for boosting the volume on your speaker. or this easy hack for cleaning your phone screen.  

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.