iOS 14: Function for hearing protection annoys users

You don’t have to be an ENT doctor to realize this: If you listen to music or other audio content too long through headphones for too long, you can damage your hearing. Apple’s health team also noticed this, which is why the company has now integrated new functions for “headphone security” into iOS 14. These monitor the output level of the iPhone and then calculate an average value from it. You can then view this in the health app (Health).

But that’s not all. If the system notices, for example, that you have been listening at 90 decibels for four hours in a week, it automatically sends a notification. With higher dB values ​​it comes even earlier, with lower values ​​- the limit is 75 dB – later. The notification not only warns the user, but also automatically reduces the volume by half. If you want to continue listening just as loudly, you have to turn it up by hand.

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Function cannot be switched off

So far, so good for hearing. The problem: The feature can currently neither be switched off completely nor does it work properly. There are headphones – not only with Bluetooth – that have their own volume control. Users who have turned the volume up completely on the iPhone in order to control them on the headphones automatically become “hearing impaired” in the Apple sense, since only the output signal can be monitored.

Furthermore, it is not possible for iOS 14 to differentiate between external speakers and headphones. If the iPhone is connected to a Bluetooth speaker or a car entertainment system, the volume will also be halved if the output signal has been turned up too much.

Little possibilities of control

In iOS 14 there seem to be ways to turn “headphone security” off. However, these are currently not working. You can only set that “loud tones” are automatically reduced (under “Tones & Haptics”) and deactivate this switch in “Screen time”, for example to prevent children from doing this.

Alternatively, you can only delete the volume data (“headphone noise level”) that has already been recorded in the health app, but this would then have to be done regularly so that the warning message does not even appear. It is unclear whether Apple is working on the problem.


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