Android's new Sound Notifications will alert you to 'critical sounds' around you

The feature is geared toward people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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2 min read

Sound Notifications also works with other Google devices like Wear OS smartwatches.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google on Thursday rolled out a new feature for Android designed to alert people with hearing loss about "critical household sounds" such as appliances beeping, water running and dogs barking. Sound Notifications will send a push notification, trigger a flash from your camera light or cause your phone to vibrate to grab your attention. While the feature is focused on helping people who are deaf or hard of hearing, it can also be helpful for people wearing earplugs or headphones, Google says.


Sound Notifications will ping you when there's something around the house that might need your attention.


Sound Notifications also works with other Google devices like Wear OS smartwatches, which send text notifications with vibrations to your wrist when your phone picks up on an important noise. That can be helpful to people who want to get alerts even while sleeping, "a concern shared by many in the deaf and hard of hearing community," Google said in a blog post.

The feature was developed with machine learning and works fully offline, using your phone's microphone to pick up on 10 different noises such as smoke and fire alarms, running water, baby sounds and a knock on the door. This builds upon Google's sound detection features in Live Transcribe, which shows more than 30 sounds with real-time captions to help people better understand their surroundings. 

To turn on Sound Notifications, go to Settings. Then go to the Accessibility menu to enable Sound Notifications. If that option isn't showing up for you, download both Live Transcribe and Sound Notifications from Google Play, then head to settings to turn on Sound Notifications.