Apple’s New WatchOS6 Considers Hearing Health With Noise Control Feature

The new Noise app, introduced with watchOS 6 for any Apple Watch Series, helps users understand the ambient sound levels in environments such as concerts and sporting events that could negatively impact hearing. As the sound levels change, the app’s decibel meter moves in real-time. The watch can send a notification if the decibel level reaches 90 decibels, which can begin to impact hearing after four hours per week of exposure at this level, according to the World Health Organization.

Since Apple introduced the Apple Watch, one of the design features that generated most interests was the ability to actually make or take a call anywhere, either through pairing with an iPhone or even completely on its own when the App Watch model features a cellular LTE connection. With the Watch Series 3, Apple improved both the built-in speaker and microphone allowing for even more possibilities of environment monitoring and voice recognition. With the Apple Watch Series 4, Apple made the speaker 50 percent louder, optimized for phone calls, Siri and the Walkie-Talkie app (push-to-talk communications between users of Apple Watch), and the microphone has been relocated, to reduce echo for better sound quality. With the recent introduction of Apple Watch Series 5, those features continue to improve also thanks to the fact that the Apple Watch uses a powerful custom 64-bit dual-core processor chip.

With the launch of the Series 5, Apple also launched the new watchOS 6 operating system, compatible with all generations of Apple Watch and which includes the very useful Noise app, developed internally at Apple by the company’s own audio and acoustics team at Cupertino, California. The watch monitors the user’s environment ambient noise and tracks the duration of exposure. When Apple Watch detects that the decibel level has risen to a point where hearing could be affected, it can notify the user with a tap on the wrist.

Maintenance of hearing health positively impacts the quality of life and studies have shown that hearing loss has been associated with cognitive decline. With the optimal position of Apple Watch on the wrist, the Noise app helps users understand the sound levels in their surrounding environment and gain awareness of dangerous sound levels, with the user able to configure alerts when the environment is loud, and tracking sound exposure over time. The Noise app on watchOS 6 is also complemented with more hearing health features available in the Health app on iOS 13.

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