How to turn on the new iPhone sound recognition feature

Apple‘s sound recognition tool, which allows users to be alerted when their phones detect specific sounds in their environments, is getting both a fun and useful customization upgrade with iOS 16.

The new accessibility feature lets iPhone owners create and record their own alert sounds, rather than relying on the pre-programmed options for household, people, and environmental sounds, to help deaf users be alerted to actions happening around them.

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Users with disabilities can set sound alerts for their medical devices, for example, or their homes’ unique doorbells, or the electronic jingles specific to their appliances. Sound recognition can also be incorporated into accessibility shortcuts (which can be found at the bottom of the accessibility menu in your phone settings), and easily turned on and off in the iPhone Control Center (just swipe down from the top right of your phone screen ).

How to set your own custom sound recognition alerts

Apple already has a plethora of sounds your phone is able to detect and alert you to, including police sirens, fire alarms, and breaking glass, but to be alerted to specific sounds in your home, a personal device, or something else with a specific or unusual noise, use the new customization tools.

1. Go to your phone “Settings” menu and select “Accessibility”

The accessibility settings menu offers a wide variety of features to make your device easier to use.
Credit: Apple / Mashable

Find all new and existing accessibility features in your iPhone or iPad Accessibility settings.

2. Scroll to the section labeled “Hearing” and select “Sound Recognition”

A screenshot of the accessibility menu, with a red circle around the phrase

Sound recognition can later be adjusted in the Control Center.
Credit: Apple / Mashable

Sound recognition, and other features designed specifically with the deaf and hard of hearing community in mind, can be found in the “hearing” section of your iPhone’s accessibility settings.

3. Choose any of the “custom” options at the bottom of each sound category

A screenshot of the sound recognition menu, with two red circles around the custom sound options.

Custom options are at the bottom of each category.
Credit: Apple / Mashable

Sound recognition divides the alert noises into various categories, from emergency alarms to people. Scroll to the bottom of each category to find a customization option that most closely aligns with the object you want to record, whether an alarm or appliance. Custom options should appear as a blue, clickable link.

4. Name and record your custom sound

A screenshot of the sound recognition screen after selecting

Alert yourself to a special device using the “custom appliance or doorbell” option.
Credit: Apple / Mashable

After selecting the custom option, your device will prompt you with three simple steps — name, record, and set alert.

A screenshot of the custom sound screen, with the user choosing a personalized sound name.

Get ready to make some noise once prompted, or ask for assistance from another person if needed.
Credit: Apple / Mashable

A screenshot of the custom sound screen.  The user is asked to play the sound 5 times.

Credit: Apple / Mashable

First, name the sound you wish to record. You will then be prompted to get the device or object ready to make its sound. Once ready, select the blue “Start Listening” button — your phone will need to hear the object or device at least five times and will let you know when it’s successfully created the alert.

Et voila. Your sound will now be saved under the personalized name you’ve chosen. Simply make sure the new alert is turned on — you can also adjust the alert tones that play when a sound recognition goes off — and go about your day.

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