You like to listen to music while on the go. But there’s this problem. You can’t hear the world around you with the ear buds blocking your ears. You could place the ear buds loosely in your ears, but then you can’t really hear the music. So what do you do?
If you use an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad to listen to your music (or any audio material), you should check out Awareness! The Headphone App. It turns on the built-in microphone to measure the sound around you. It then uses that same microphone to let you hear the outside world whenever the external sound rises above the ambient noise.
If you’re waiting at an airport gate, you’ll be able to hear the announcement about your flight change. You’ll be able to hear a nearby car horn when you’re jogging. And you won’t be startled when the waitress brings your food.
The Awareness app works well and has some nice features. You can manually set the threshold where the microphone will turn on (you may want the threshold to be higher or lower for different situations). You can override the cutoff to temporarily hear everything around you (just in case). And you can have the app automatically lower the music when the microphone is triggered (otherwise, the volume level is unaffected).
This has become my favorite app when traveling. I often use my iPad to watch movies on a plane. Previously, I would pause the movie and pull out my ear buds in order to hear any inflight announcements. Now when an announcement is made, I can choose to listen or not, without any disruption.