Here’s How watchOS 6 Will Help Protect Your Hearing

Watchos 6 Ambient Noise Credit: Nikias Molina
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While we’ve been hearing a lot about the many cool new features coming to iOS 13 later this year, Apple also unveiled watchOS 6 earlier this month, the latest version of the mobile operating system for its extremely popular wearable device. While watchOS 6 doesn’t offer quite as extensive of a list of new features, there’s still some cool stuff to look forward to, including new native apps, new faces, and new health features.

Now, courtesy of the first developer beta of watchOS 6, 9to5Mac is offering us a closer look at how the new health features will help you to protect your hearing in watchOS 6, thanks to a new app simply named Noise.

The noise monitoring feature, which runs in the background and also offers a complication for your favourite watch face, is designed to alert you when you’re in an environment that could be loud enough to damage your hearing, allowing you to either don hearing protection, or simply get away from the noise.

In the Noise app itself, you’ll be able to configure the noise threshold to your own personal preference, with options that are based on noise levels that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers safe. By default, watchOS 6 will notify you when the ambient sound level exceeds 90 decibels — a level that the WHO says can damage your hearing if you’re exposed to it for more than 30 minutes per day — although you will be able to choose to turn the feature off entirely, or set it to one of five fixed options in a range between 80 decibels and 100 decibels.

Each of the options is also annotated with the WHO maximum recommended exposure times for that noise level. For example, you’re good for up to five hours of exposure per day to noise levels of 80 decibels, while you should spend no more than three minutes per day being surrounded by 100-decibel levels without using proper hearing protection.

With watchOS 6, your Apple Watch will not only monitor ambient noise, but also track how long you’ve been exposed to those noise levels each day, providing a better indication of when hearing damage may actually occur. This will presumably allow users to manage their noise exposure more effectively, as notifications will only be sent when the average sound level reaches or exceeds the thresholds over a period of time, although it’s not entirely clear how the timing aspects will work — in the example screenshot shared by 9to5Mac, the descriptive text for the 90dB setting suggests that a notification will be sent after three minutes of exposure.

You’ll also be able to use the new Noise app to check the ambient noise level in whatever environment you’re in at any time. Simply open the app and you’ll see a live-updating bar graph showing the recent noise levels, followed by an explanation of what that actually means and whether you should be concerned or not. A complication can also be added to your watch face to provide live monitoring at a glance, which will include the noise level as well as an indication as to whether it’s okay or too loud.

Apple’s watchOS 6 is currently in beta for developers only, and unlike iOS 13 we likely won’t be seeing a public beta release next month if past releases are any indication, so non-developers will need to wait until the final public release, which is expected in September.

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