Apple has been known for adding tools that benefit a user's health ever since the company launched the Health App with iOS 8. The company has doubled down on the same ethos with the introduction of the Apple Watch. The smartwatch has some nifty features that have been responsible for saving countless lives in the past. Now with iOS 13, Apple is introducing a new feature in the health app that lets users track the headphone volume. It works with Bluetooth headsets (MFi) and the health app will let users know if the volume of the music is too high.
This feature was not showcased at WWDC 2019 however we got a small preview of the upcoming feature. The health app on iOS devices will now be able to track volume levels and suggest users if the volume is too high and might damage their ears. Apple will use the prescribed WHO levels to determine if the volume levels are loud or not. According to WHO, sounds above the level of 85db is harmful to the ear which is also the same parameter set by Apple in the 'Health' app. Any volume levels lower than 85db is usually ok however previous research has suggested that prolonged exposure to sound levels below 85db can also be harmful to the human ear.What Can Be Improved?
From what we saw from the demo, the new feature doesn't entirely work as expected. Even though you can track your volume levels from a previous listening session in the Health app, there is no provision for listeners when they are actually listening to audio at high volume levels. The 'Health' app as of now does not notify users about potential ear damage when they are listening to loud music. You will have to manually check levels each time by going into the 'Health' app which can be a bit tedious if you really care about protecting your ears.
It would have been useful if the 'Health' app would notify you if you are listening to music louder than the recommenced volume level when you're actually doing it rather than later. For example, if a user is listening to music louder than 85db for more than 30 minutes, the Health app could simply notify users with a warning. Of course, many audiophiles would find this notification annoying if it keeps coming up every 15 or 30 minutes, which is why Apple should also provide the option of turning this specific notification off or give the ability to mute it for an hour. Personally, I would like to get a warning while I'm listening to loud music, not after the damage is already done.