What you need to know

  • An update to Android's accessibility systems now makes it possible to be aware of important sounds.
  • Sound Notifications will alert you if your phone detects a smoke alarm, dog barking, and many other noises.
  • You can start using it now as long as you have the Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications apps.

We often just think of our phones as a way to scroll through Twitter, watch endless YouTube videos, or upvote cute cat pictures on Reddit. While they can certainly do all of those things, they're also invaluable tools for a lot of people. In yet another effort to expand its accessibility platform, Google's unveiled a new Android feature called "Sound Notifications."

Sound Notifications is part of the Live Transcribe app, and it does just what the name implies — sends you a notification when certain sounds are detected. There's currently a list of ten sounds that can be detected, including things like baby sounds, running water, fire/smoke alarms, beeping appliances, someone knocking on your door, and a dog barking.

Sound NotificationsSource: Google

Per Google's blog post announcing the feature:

Developed with machine learning, Sound Notifications works completely offline and uses your phone's microphone to recognize ten different noises...This expands our sound detection work in Live Transcribe which shows over 30 sound events alongside real time captions, to provide a better picture of overall sound awareness.

In addition to getting a notification on your Android phone when a sound is detected, you can also view a timeline of any detected sounds to get a snapshot of what was all heard during a given day. The timeline also shows how long a certain sound was detected and breaks them up with differing colors.

Sound Notifications was designed to aid the 466 million people around the world that experience hearing loss, but Google says the feature can be used by anyone that wants to check it out. With many of us still working from home and often wearing headphones throughout the day, this could be a great tool to make sure you don't miss out on important noises while in a meeting or jamming out to some music.

You can use Sound Notifications right now on your Android phone by going to Settings -> Accessibility, and then enabling the new Sound Notifications option. If it's not showing up there, make sure you have both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications downloaded from the Play Store. Once you do, the toggle should show up.

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