Picture yourself at a music concert, or a bar, or a party. The music, background conversations, or other sounds have gotten so loud that you can't even hear yourself think. Exposure to loud noises is annoying and could damage your hearing. But how do you know if the surrounding noise in a certain place is actually loud enough to be hazardous to your health? Enter Apple's Noise app, courtesy of watch OS 6.
With the Noise app, you can check the ambient sounds to view the decibel level and determine if the noise is so loud as to be harmful to your hearing. You can also set a decibel threshold in the app and receive a notification if the surrounding noise reaches or exceeds that level.
Set Up the Noise App on iPhone:
On your iPhone, open the Watch app. In the My Watch section, tap the entry for Noise. Turn on the switch for Environmental Sound Measurements. This option uses the watch's microphone to measure and monitor sound levels throughout the day. Next, tap the option for Noise Notifications. Choose the decibel level at which you want to be warned if the sound around you gets too loud.
Set Up the Noise App on Apple Watch:
The setup process works similarly on the Apple Watch. On your watch, open Settings and then tap the setting for Noise. Tap the option for Environmental Sound Measurements and then turn on the switch. Go back to the previous screen and tap the option for Noise Notifications. Select the decibel level at which you want to be notified if the noise around you gets too loud.
What Each Decibel Level Means:
Looking at the different decibel levels, the top setting alerts you if the noise reaches 100 decibels, while the lowest setting alerts you at 80 decibels. Each setting also shows you how long you could listen to noise at this level on a daily basis before experiencing hearing loss. By turning on Noise Notifications, you'll be alerted if the average sound level over three minutes reaches or exceeds the decibel level you selected. Apple breaks down the settings as follows:
80 decibels: Around 5 hours and 30 minutes a day at this level can cause temporary hearing loss. The weekly limit at this level is 40 hours.
85 decibels: Around 1 hour and 45 minutes a day at this level can cause temporary hearing loss. The weekly limit at this level is around 12 hours and 30 minutes.
90 decibels: Around 30 minutes a day at this level can cause temporary hearing loss. The weekly limit at this level is 4 hours.
95 decibels: Just 10 minutes a day at this level can cause temporary hearing loss. The weekly limit at this level is around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
100 decibels: Even a few minutes a day at this level can cause temporary hearing loss. The weekly limit at this level is around 20 minutes.
How to Choose the Right Decibel Level:
The level you choose depends on what you do and where you go during a typical day. You might want to try a higher level to start and then lower the level if you're not receiving any warnings and are still concerned about surrounding noise. Of course, you can also change the level based on your activities at a given time. To do this, you'll want to view the settings both for decibels and duration. For example, if you're at a loud public event or concert that you know will last for a couple of hours, you'll want to set the decibels at a sufficient level so that you're alerted if and when the sound gets too loud.
You can always check the app at any time to get a reading on the current noise level and decide how to react. To do this, just open the app on your watch. The screen displays the current decibel level with a notice whether or not long-term exposure at this level could affect your hearing. Tap the Learn More button to get additional information. The screen then explains the different decibel levels and their potential effects on your hearing.
Loud Environment Notifications:
If the ambient sound reaches the decibel level you set, you'll receive a Loud Environment notification. The Noise app then shows you the number of decibels in the surrounding environment and issues a warning about hearing loss.