Whatever you do don’t confuse the iPhone Awareness app with traditional noise cancellation. In fact, it does the opposite…sort of.
Many of us parade around busy cities with headphones stuck in our ears jamming out to loud music. Problem is we don’t hear when people are calling to us, warning us of impending danger. That is until this app came wondering along.
It runs in the background and samples the general ambient noise using your iPhone’s (or headphone) mic. This is the threshold. Any outside noise that isn’t as loud as the sample won’t be played through your headphones while listening to your music. But if suddenly a bus comes barreling down the street and out of control honking its horn, which should be bonkers loud, the app will allow the noise to penetrate into your cranium. Get it? In other words, the Awareness app makes you aware of noises that you wouldn’t otherwise hear with your standard or noise canceling headphones. And speaking of noise cancelling headphones – this app would be particularly useful with a pair. It’s just too bad you can’t program in select voices; block out the girlfriend but let in the honky dory waitress.
In theory the Awarness app should provide you with a more isolated listening experience. So if you’re riding the train and someone is yelling in your direction, you’ll be able to hear that person but not the rumble and squeal of the locomotive. But since the tech is probably based on decibel level threshold and not frequencies, we can only assume that it’s a question of being louder than the setting, where upon it turns the noise cancellation on or off.