The Apple Watch can measure the sound level in its environment throughout the day and alert users if they are reaching their daily limit, with the addition of the Noise app in watchOS 6 and later. It might be off-putting to think about an Apple Watch having microphones on the wearer’s wrist, worn nearly all the time, but there can be health benefits to monitoring the sounds in a given environment. For example, people should only hear limited amounts of loud sounds daily; if these limits are exceeded, the result can be hearing damage down the line. For this reason, it might be worth setting up loud noise notifications on an Apple Watch to let the wearer know if they are often in dangerously noisy environments.
Apple was aware of the risks associated with loud sounds long before they introduced the Noise app in 2020. Dating back to the iPod, which was officially discontinued this year, it was possible to lower the maximum volume for music and other media when headphones were connected. The feature is still present on the iPhone, but it’s more powerful. The latest versions of iOS can alert users when their headphone volume is too loud and track headphone volumes throughout the week. It can even tell the difference between when an iPhone is connected to an auxiliary jack rather than headphones and exempt those readings from the data. To take these nose readings to the next level, the Noise app on the Apple Watch can detect external sounds in the wearer’s environment.
When noise notifications are enabled, Apple Watches will periodically measure the decibel level of its surrounding environment and alert the wearer if the sounds are too loud. The microphone is used to measure the decibel level, but it does not record or save any audio, according to the company. The user can set the sound limits to notify them if a sound is too loud or if a loud sound persists for a set period. The decibel levels can be set between 80 and 100 decibels, and if the surrounding environment reaches or exceeds these thresholds for three minutes, the user will be notified.
The feature must be set up on the smartwatch’s paired iPhone to receive noise notifications when an Apple Watch’s surrounding environment meets or exceeds a certain threshold for a prolonged period. First, open the Watch app on the smartphone, and make sure the ‘My Watch’ tab at the bottom left of the screen is opened. Next, scroll down to the Noise app in the settings menu, which is depicted with an ear over a yellow icon. Then, tap ‘Noise Threshold’ to view the Apple Watch’s current settings. The options are listed along with the daily limits associated with the various sound levels. Tap the decibel number to receive notifications at that threshold, or tap ‘Off’ to turn off the measurements entirely.
The daily limits for set decibel measurements are derived from the World Health Organization’s recommendations, per the subtext at the bottom of the settings page. The levels are measured in A-weighted decibels. The measurements only are compatible with Series 4 watches or newer running watchOS 6 or later because the Noise app is required. It’s possible to measure the sounds in a given environment without setting up notifications by opening the Noise app on the Apple Watch. If a user is worried about the noise levels in their surrounding environments, noise notifications are an excellent way to ensure loud sounds aren’t damaging their ears.