How to use Sound Recognition on iPhone

Sound Recognition provides text-based notifications when a recognized sound plays nearby, which can be useful for those who are hard of hearing.


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  • How to use sound recognition on iPhone
  • How to set up custom sound recognitions

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to miss important sounds, whether it’s your baby crying upstairs or even a siren blaring in the distance. For those who are hard of hearing, these everyday challenges are common. One of much new accessibility features Apple added to iOS 16 is called Sound Recognition. The feature allows the phone to listen continuously for specific sounds you request, like those noted above. If it recognizes any of these sounds, it will alert you so that you can take necessary action. That might be rushing upstairs to check on your newborn or hesitating before crossing the road to make sure an ambulance isn’t speeding by.


It takes just a few simple taps to set up Sound Recognition on any of the best iPhones running iOS 16. Here’s how to do it.


How to use sound recognition on iPhone

  1. Go to Settings and tap Accessibility.

  2. Select Sound Recognition under Hearing and move the slider to the right to turn it on. It will turn green to confirm.
  3. Go to Sounds to choose which sounds you want the phone to recognize. You can choose from various sounds in the Alarms, Animals, Household, and People categories. You can also set custom sounds, like your specific home alarm, a unique appliance, or a distinct doorbell chime. (See the next section.)
  4. Browse the list and select each sound you want to activate Sound Recognition for.
  5. You can select the preferred alert tone each time a sound is detected. The default is Classic Tri-tone, but you can choose everything from Keys to Popcorn, Aurora to Twinkle. You can also set it to Vibration, either alone or with sound. There’s also a Tone Store to download additional sounds.

  6. Once turned on, any time one of the recognized sounds is heard, the phone will deliver a notification saying as such.
    iphone sound recognition 10

How to set up custom sound recognitions

  1. To add a custom sound, click on the type of custom sound you want to add so that the iPhone can learn, recall, and detect it. There are two options: Custom Alarm under Alarms or Custom Appliance or Doorbell under Household.
  2. Tap Continue, add a Name for the custom sound, and tap Continue again.
  3. To teach the iPhone the sound, make it play five times in a row. Play the sound and tap Start Listening. Once the sound ends, the audio will register and you can start again, and so on.
  4. Once the iPhone confirms an appliance, alarm, or doorbell was detected, select Save Sound. Repeat this five times.

  5. You will see a pop-up message noting that Sound Recognition would like to send you notifications. Select Allow. You’ll instantly receive a notification that the newly added sound is ready to use.
  6. Select Done.

  7. The custom sound recognition will now appear on the list of options in the appropriate category, and you will receive the customized notification whenever the sound is detected.

Sound Recognition on the latest iPhones, including the iPhone 14 series, is useful not only for those who might be hard of hearing but also for new parents, multitaskers, and others whose attention is elsewhere. There are times, for example, when you might not hear the stove timer going off while you work in the office downstairs because you have headphones on. Maybe your cat is meowing ferociously, and you can’t hear your feline friend over the loud movie you’re watching.

Of course, Sound Recognition has its limitations. The iPhone needs to be close enough to the source of the sound to detect it, and you have to be close enough to the iPhone to see the notification. It can also sometimes mishear sounds, like if a sound in a TV show is similar to one in your home. Nonetheless, it’s easy to be focused on a task and fail to hear someone knocking at the door or get distracted when you’re out of the house, especially when wearing noise-canceling headphones.

Like other similar features in iOS 16, such as Music Recognition, which can identify any song playing without needing an app, the primary focus of Sound Recognition is to aid those who are hard of hearing. These individuals can rely on text-based notifications for sounds they cannot hear as clearly as others or even at all. It’s a clever feature that could be a literal lifesaver.

iPhone 14 in Blue color

Apple iPhone 14

The iPhone 14 is the base model of the 2022 iPhone series, offering a balanced set of features for the average user.

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