Hands-on with iOS 14’s Sound Recognition feature that listens for doorbells, smoke alarms, more

iOS 14 brings a range of valuable new features, and some of them are designed as Accessibility options but happen to be useful for just about everyone. Read along for a hands-on look at how to use iPhone Sound Recognition to get alerts for things like doorbells, running water, smoke alarms, crying babies, animals, and more.

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Another one of the Accessibility features in iOS 14 that’s appealing for lots of use cases is the new “Back Tap” feature. That lets users create custom controls with a double or triple tap on the back of their iPhones.

Sound Recognition is also an Accessibility feature that can give users with hearing challenges a visual cue for a variety of sounds happening in their environment. The list includes alarms, animals, household sounds, and people. Check out all the options below. Notably, there are some valuable use cases for any user, even without being hard of hearing like getting a notification for someone at your door if you regularly wear headphones while working from home.

In my use, Sound Recognition has worked reliably. One interesting thing discovery though: I found that whistling is picked up by Sound Recognition in iOS 14 as a “siren.”

How to use iPhone Sound Recognition in iOS 14:

  1. Open the Settings app and head to Accessibility
  2. Swipe to the bottom and tap Sound Recognition
  3. Tap the toggle to enable it, then tap Sounds
  4. Choose the type(s) of sounds you’d like to recognize
  5. Tap Back in the top left corner

Hands-on with iPhone Sound Recognition:

How to use iPhone sound recognition iOS 14 walkthrough 1

Once you turn on Sound Recognition on your iPhone, tap Sounds, and you’re able to simply toggle on all the types of sounds you’d like alerts for:

How to use iPhone sound recognition iOS 14 walkthrough 2

When your iPhone registers a sound, you’ll get a notification on your lock screen, home screen, or when using apps.

You can long-press to see what type of sound was recognized if you have your iPhone set up to alert you to multiple types. You’ll also get the option to snooze recognizing the sound.

How to use iPhone sound recognition iOS 14 how alerts appear

So far I’ve found Sound Recognition to be very responsive. For instance, something like running water was picked up about 40 feet from my kitchen faucet while in my office (and a TV was on too).

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