Awareness! is a new App for the iPhone that listens for danger for you while you lose yourself in your music.  The App only runs on iOS4, and when it is active, you get a bright, red, throbbing bar across the top of your iPhone screen at all times reminding you the App is active.  The only way to rid yourself of that annoying redness is to kill the App with a double click on the home button and then choose to close it as a live application.

Here’s the PR blurp explaining what this $5.00USD App can do for you:

The engineers and designers at essency, have developed a unique new class of functional headphone app, that uses the built-in microphone on the iPhone and iPod Touch to make headphones better and more practical to use.  With Awareness!, if someone talks to you when you’re wearing headphones, you don’t need to take them off or turn off your music to hear.

Awareness! The Headphone App, allows you to listen to your music with complete peace of mind, knowing that important sounds (warnings, shouts, sirens, alarms or conversations) won’t be missed.  In other words, you get to hear the things you NEED, even when you’re lost in your music.

Awareness! cleverly turns the microphone on when any sound exceeds the level of everyday background noise and delivers it to your headphones, letting you hear what is going on.

This makes it massively safer to listen to music whilst travelling – driving, riding, commuting, walking, crossing the road, cycling and jogging and even allows you to have comfortable conversations while listening to music.

I love the idea of this App, and I purchased it 10 minutes ago. I’ve been fooling around with the settings ever since.

You can set your own danger threshold levels, and when the App senses an outside sound source, the yellow alert symbol glows giving you the opportunity to act or ignore.  Touching the vibrating cellphone icon — not an iPhone! — will put you in vibrate mode.

One neat feature is “Ducking*” — but when you turn it on, you get an alert that the feature doesn’t work:

The App website explains Ducking* and the problem:

Turns your music down and switches the mic on when outside noise exceeds the mic threshold. Useful when your listening to loud music. Please note we do not condone listening to music at high volumes. listening to music at high volumes can and probably will damage your hearing. [sic]

*Please note that there is an iOS issue that stops the ducking feature from fading your music up and down smoothly, Apple advise this will be resolved in a future iOS 4 update.

Awareness! has your back by protecting your self-righteous sense of safety and satiety that many of us have allowed to be breached in a ever louder and more annoying world that we attempt to drown out with our music.

With this App active on your iPhone, you can enjoy your music while knowing you will be immediately alerted if your interruption threshold is exceeded.

One thing I really love about Awareness! is that my wife, Janna, who is Deaf, can now enjoy her iPhone music as loud as she wishes without the fear of missing an emergency vibration.  The Deaf hear with their eyes, but some sounds are imperceptible to the naked eye and the disabled ear — like a fire alarm in the next room, or a crazy person yelling on a crowded train, or even a ringing doorbell or telephone.  With Awareness! with her — Janna is now protected just a bit more from the dangers in her environment that are there — but that she doesn’t know are there — making noise, and wailing for her reaction and intervention.  In fact, Janna could use Awareness! without even needed to listen to music.  Awareness! will monitor any environment and alert her to unexpected noise.

I had the App running for about five minutes while writing this review, and my battery dropped 5%.  It appears actively listening takes a lot of juice — and that throbbing red banner has to be paid for somehow in a power performance degradation of your iPhone — so let Awareness! protect your body, while you keep an eye pinned on the battery price you’re paying to have a simpler, autonomous, peace of mind.


  1. I like the idea of the app but at the same time I am concerned that it might make people less full-body aware if they think that an app is being aware for them — ie not looking around as well, etc.

    1. Yes, that’s a good caution, Gordon — but your comment also made me realize how perfect an App like this is for the Deaf. I just went back to the review and added a “Janna paragraph” to explain why Awareness! is now even greater.

  2. Seems like a neat thing, David. I liked the part you added about Janna and how this product can help her cope.

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