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iPhone Sound Recognition might just be the coolest feature of iOS 16

iPhone sound recognition
(Image credit: Future)

iPhone hacks do the rounds all the time, and often fall under the category of 'pretty obvious feature that most people are already aware of' (we knew we could use our iPhone to make calls, thanks). But every now and again something genuinely cool pops up, like this awesome little-known accessibility tool.

First introduced as part of 2020's iOS 14 update, Sound Recognition is able to, well, recognise sounds. With the feature enabled, your iPhone can detect sounds such as a crying baby, doorbell, or siren, and notify you when it recognises these sounds. And the feature got even better with the release of iOS 16 this week. (Want the best iPhone experience available? Check out our guide to the iPhone 14.)

While the feature has been around for a couple of years, iPhone users are still taking to Twitter to declare their surprise on discovering it. "I only knew about this because of my friend who’s deaf he uses this on his watch so he can detect things like his kid crying. Thanks Apple!" one user comments (opens in new tab), while another adds, "This is a genius idea."

As well as being an essential feature for the hard of hearing, many have pointed out that sound recognition is also useful when wearing noise-cancelling headphones, such as the new AirPods Pro. And with iOS 16, it just got even better. Rather than relying on Apple's own pre-programmed sounds, users can now record any sound that they'd like the iPhone to listen out for.

To enable the feature, all you have to do is head to Settings, tap Accessibility and turn on Sound Recognition. You can then tap 'Sounds' to select what you'd like the iPhone to listen out for, or record your own. Pre-programmed sounds the device can detect include alarms, doorbells and glass breaking. It can also detect cats and dogs – much the the delight of various Twitter users.

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From enhanced lock screens to photo cutout, plenty of new iOS 16 features are already wowing users. For more awesome tips and tricks, check out our roundup of the most mind-blowing iPhone hacks.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).