Accessibility features are an important part of the mobile experience. They allow more people to take advantage of features we might take for granted. To further expand Android’s accessibility, Google is introducing Sound Notifications designed to listen for “critical sounds.”
There’s an estimated 466 million people in the world who are hard of hearing, so Sound Notifications can make a big difference in people’s everyday lives. Going forward, users will be served a push notification, a flash from their camera light, or a vibration when a certain sound is detected.
Using machine learning, the feature works completely offline and uses your device’s microphone to recognize ten different noises:
- Smoke and fire alarms
- Baby sounds
- Doorbell ringing
- Dog barking
- Appliance beeping
- Water running
- Landline phone ringing
Other devices support Sound Notifications, including Wear OS devices, by sending text notifications with vibrations to your watch. Google said this will allow users to get notifications while they’re asleep — something many in the deaf and hard of hearing community requested. There’s also a timeline view so you can scroll through a snapshot of detected sounds from the last few hours.
Google first put sound detection features in Live Transcribe, showing over 30 sound events alongside real time captions. The company also added an “Attention Alerts” feature to the Pixel Buds, which temporarily lowers the volume whenever an important sound is heard, such as a baby crying or dog barking.
You can turn on the Sound Notifications feature by going to Settings > Accessibility. Google said if you don’t see this option, you can download Live Transcribe from Google Play, then go to your settings and turn on Sound Notifications.
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