Like many others, I’ve been working from home for most of the past two years because of the pandemic. I also like working with earbuds or headphones so I can listen to music, which is usually great.
At least it’s great until a package arrives for me (which is probably more common for me than others since companies regularly send me products to test). When I’m listening to music at work, it’s pretty easy to miss the doorbell, and if my partner isn’t around to reach for the door if I miss it, it can be a problem. So I set out to see if there was a way to have the technology listen to the door instead, and to my surprise, both iOS and Android have built-in systems that can do this (and much more) . a lot of more).
Below are steps on how to turn on your phone’s “ears” to listen for doorbells, smoke alarms, appliances, and more. Of course, regardless of whether you use the iOS or Android versions of it, you should keep in mind that these tools are not perfect. So be prepared for false alarms. Still, when I tried these, they seemed to work pretty well.
iOS – Sound detection
I think iPhone users got lucky here with the superior tone detection system. There aren’t many differences between the two systems, but I like how it works on iOS, just a little bit better. Also, it’s easier to navigate on iOS and you can teach iPhone to recognize custom sounds.
First, open Settings > Accessibility > Sound detection > tap the switch to turn it on. Then you can tap “Sounds” to customize what sounds you want your iPhone to hear. Options include alarms (like fire or smoke detectors), animals, and various household items like appliances (like microwave thingies), car horns, broken glass, running water, and more. You can even set iPhone to listen for crying babies (helpful if you’re a parent like me), coughing, or screaming.
You can tap each option to activate it and choose which alert sound is used (by default they all use the three-tone).
To add custom options, tap Custom Alarm or Custom Device or Doorbell, then follow the onscreen steps to teach your iPhone to sound.
Once you’ve got your sounds set up the way you want, you can close the Settings app and use your iPhone as usual. iPhone notifies you when it recognizes one of your selected tones.
Android – sound notifications
To get started, you’ll need to open Settings > Accessibility > Sound notifications (note that location may change depending on your phone’s manufacturer and you may need to install the app from the Play Store).
You’ll be greeted with a screen where you’ll see a large “Open Sound Notifications” button. Below that is an option to add a shortcut to sound notifications. Shortcuts can either be an on-screen accessibility option, or you can press and hold both volume buttons to trigger them.
Tapping “Open Sound Notifications” takes you to another screen showing your history. This can be useful for checking what sounds your phone has been hearing. But we’ll get back to that – next, tap the gear icon in the top-right corner. This will take you to the Sound Notifications settings menu – tap the highlighted switch at the top to turn on Sound Notifications (when you do this, the green microphone indicator should appear on the screen to indicate that the Sound Notifications microphone is active).
To customize what sound notifications listen to, tap the highlighted Sound notifications are active balloon. You should see a list of sounds divided into “Emergency,” “Priority,” and “Device and Other.” Each section contains different tones that you can turn on and off, such as smoke and fire alarms, baby sounds, appliance beeps, landline phone ringing, and most importantly, doorbells.
Once you’ve turned on all the sounds you want your Android phone to hear, go back to the Settings page. There are a few things worth checking out before you finish — like the “Show icon in app list” toggle, which is helpful if you plan on using sound notifications a lot. You can also tap “Notification settings” to customize what happens when the phone hears a specific sound — for example, whether you get notifications on a connected watch, or whether the LED camera flash turns on to give you a visual notification .
With everything adjusted to your liking, you can return to the sound notifications screen, which now says “Live View” with a scrolling timeline that marks when the phone hears certain sounds. You can now use your phone as usual and it will notify you when it detects any of the specified sounds.
It’s worth noting that Sound Notifications adds a persistent notification to the notification bar that shows it’s running (I’ve set mine to “silent” so it appears minimized among my other notifications). You can use this notification to pause playback when you no longer need it.