The world is full of loud noises competing for our attention, but sometimes we can’t be fully aware of what’s happening around us. That’s fine, though, because the new Sound Detection feature on Android can do the listening for you and alert you to important things it hears.
Android’s Sound Detection uses a mix of the Live Transcribe feature and cloud-based algorithms to detect a wide range of potentially important sounds, including alarms, sirens, shouting, crying children, barking dogs, doorbells, ringing phones, and more. It can even transcribe voices it picks up around you, too.
Depending on how you have the accessibility feature configured, a push notification is sent to your phone or smartwatch when it recognises one of these sounds. A timeline of reported noises is also accessible on your phone so you can review alerts later on.
Sound Detection is a helpful feature for those with hearing impairments, or when you’re wearing headphones in public and can’t hear everything around you. It could also turn your phone into a last-minute baby monitor or home security device that can send you notifications to your smartwatch.
How to turn on Android’s Sound Detection alerts
Sound Detection requires Live Transcribe be installed on your device. This comes as pre-installed on Pixel phones, but those with other Android models will need to download the app from Google Play first.
Next, you need to configure Sound Detection in your device’s settings.
- Open the Android Settings app and go to Accessibility > Sound Notifications.
- Tap “Open Sound Notifications,” then accept the permissions to enable.
- In the “Open Sound Notifications” menu, tap “Settings.”
- Tap “Sound Notifications are active.”
- Select the noises you want your phone to listen for.
- Back out and tap “Notification preferences” and select how you want your phone to alert you of noises.
With those steps complete, you can swipe up on your screen with two fingers to enable Sound Detection at any time. You can also turn it on with the accessibility shortcut if you have one enabled.
Other ways Android users can get sound alerts
There are two other ways Android users can get alerts about loud noises heard by their devices: Google’s Nest Aware and Amazon’s Alexa Guard. These are extra paid subscription services, but both let you use the built-in mics on your smart speakers, security gadgets, and hub devices to listen for broken glass, smoke detectors, alarms, and more.
We have guides on how to set up Alexa Guard and use an Echo device for home security, and Google’s support website has walkthroughs on using Google’s Nest Aware service on your Google Home smart hubs and speakers, Nest cameras, and other Nest home security devices. These services only cover suspicious noises that happen in and around your home, whereas Android’s Sound Detection can follow you wherever you go. They’re still great for keeping tabs on your home when you’re not there.