Apple introduced Ambient Sounds on the HomePod back in 2019. Ambient Sounds is an accessibility feature that offers the ability to play different sound clips on the HomePod to block out background noise and minimize distractions.

iphone background sounds
IMAGE: Caio (Pexels)

While Ambient Sounds was well accepted among HomePod users, many users started asking for the feature on the iPhone and the iPad. Given the same, Apple brought Ambient Sounds on the iPhone and the iPad with the release of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, respectively. This time under the name Background Sounds.

So now, every time you’re in an indoor or outdoor setting, and there are unwanted external noises in the background, you can turn on Background Sounds on your iPhone/iPad to mask these noises and, in turn, help yourself focus or stay calm.

How to Enable Background Sounds on iPhone and iPad

To use Background Sounds, you need to be running iOS 15 on your iPhone and iPadOS 15 on your iPad. So if you aren’t using the latest release, make sure  to update your device and then follow the steps below to enable background sounds on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone/iPad.
  2. Scroll down and choose Accessibility.
    iphone settings
  3. Select Audio/Visual under HEARING and click on Background Sounds.
    background sounds settings on iphone
  4. Toggle on the button for Background Sounds to enable Background Sounds.
    enabling background sounds on iphone
  5. Click on Sound and tap on a sound to use it as the background sound on your iPhone/iPad. Current options include Balanced Noise, Bright Noise, Dark Noise, Ocean, Rain, and Stream.
    background sounds options
  6. Click on Back in the top-left corner to go back to the Background Sounds settings.
  7. Adjust the Rain Volume slider to set the volume level for the background sound.
  8. If you wish to play the background sound even when media is playing, toggle on the Use When Media Is Playing option and use the slider below it to adjust its volume.
  9. By default, your iPhone or iPad will continue to play background sound even when it’s locked. However, if you’d like to change this behavior, toggle on the button for Stop Sounds When Locked.

Other Ways to Enable Background Sounds on iPhone and iPad

Although using the Settings app is one way to enable Background Sounds on the iPhone and the iPad, you can also do the same via the Control Center or using the Back Tap feature (iPhone-only), as shown below.

1. Turn On Background Sounds Via Control Center

Control Center is home to several control options. Hearing is one such control, and Background Sounds is one of its many features.

Here’s how to add the Hearing control to your iPhone or iPad’s Control Center:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Control Center.
    iphone control center
  3. Scroll down and tap on the green plus (+) button next to Hearing under MORE CONTROLS.
    enabling hearing control in control center

Once it’s added, scroll down from the top-right of your phone (on non-Home Button iPhones/iPads) and swipe up from the bottom (on iPhones and iPads with a Home Button) to bring up Control Center. Here, click on the Hearing control (one with the ear icon) and tap on Background Sounds to turn it on.

hearing control center control on iphone

Click on Background Sounds and tap on a sound to use it. Then, use the slider to adjust the volume of the background sound.

enabling background sounds via control center

To turn off Background Sounds, tap on the Background Sounds icon at the bottom.

2. Turn On Background Sounds Using Back Tap (iPhone Only)

Back Tap is an accessibility feature introduced in iOS 14 that lets you double-tap or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone to perform certain actions. For instance, you can use Back Tap to lock the screen, turn on the flashlight, take a screenshot, bring up the app switcher, among other things.

As an accessibility feature itself, Background Sounds is also listed under Back Tap actions. So we can use Back Tap to turn on Background Sounds even faster and more efficiently.

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and select Accessibility.
    iphone settings
  3. Click on Touch under PHYSICAL AND MOTOR.
    touch accessibility settings
  4. Scroll down to the bottom on the following screen and tap on Back Tap.
    back tap feature on iphone
  5. Based on your preference, click on either Double Tap or Triple Tap.
    back tap options
  6. Finally, scroll down to the ACCESSIBILITY options and tap on Background Sounds under it.
    setting back tap to background sounds

Now, simply double-tap or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone to turn on Background Sounds. Use volume rockers to adjust the volume levels. If you want to change the ambient sound, you can either go into Background Sounds under Settings or use its control in Control Center and change it from there.

When you want to turn off iPhone Background Sounds, simply double-or-triple tap on your iPhone’s back, and it will be turned off.

Do Away With Distractions and Improve Your Focus

At times when you’re out—working from a cafe or sitting by yourself reading a book—unwanted environmental noises can cause distractions and hinder your ability to concentrate. iPhone Background Sounds helps eliminate this problem to some degree by masking such noises with ambient sounds.

FAQs About iPhone Background Sounds

Apple added Background Sounds to help users mask off the external noises one comes across in a day-to-day life to help them do away with distractions and improve their ability to focus, stay calm, and rest amidst all the chaos.

You can find Background Sounds under your iPhone/iPad Settings. In Settings, go to Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Background Sounds and toggle on the icon next to Background Sounds. Here, tap on Sounds, and there you'll see a list of all the ambient sounds Apple currently offers.

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