How to use your iPhone’s white noise feature in iOS 15

There’s nothing quite like setting into a hotel room bed and dozing off to sleep — only to be woken up by the sound of your neighbor in the room next door trimming their nails at a hundred decibels or doing some late-night furniture rearranging.

For just these kinds of occasions, seasoned travelers will sometimes pack a travel white noise machine or use an app to help get a little peace. But if you’re carrying an iPhone running iOS 15, you’ve already got a white noise feature built right into your phone’s operating system. Here’s how to set it up. (For this article, I used an iPhone 11 running iOS 15.4.1.)

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual (under hearing) > Background Sounds (basically, Apple’s term for white noise).
  • Tap the on / off toggle at the top of the page to start Background Sounds.

You can choose from a few different sounds. just tap Sound and pick from the following options:

  • balanced noise
  • bright noise
  • dark noise
  • ocean
  • rain
  • stream

On the main Background Sounds menu page, you can also adjust the volume of the white noise independently from other phone functions. There are also options to enable background sounds while playing other media on your phone and to have sounds stop playing when the screen is locked.

Background Sounds is nested under the Audio/Visual option in your Accessibility settings.

On the Background Sounds menu page, you can set your preferred sounds and adjust the volume.

There’s a quick way to access all of this if you’d rather not dive into menus every time you want to turn on white noise. Once you’ve set your preferred sound from the options above, follow these steps:

  • Navigate back to the Accessibility menu.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and tap Accessibility Shortcut (under General).
  • tap Background Sounds to select it from the list.

This will set white noise as your accessibility shortcut so your preferred background sound will play anytime you triple-click the side button, even with the screen locked. You can map this function to Back Tap, too, if you prefer.

Either way, you’ve got instant access to relaxation-inducing sounds whenever you need them.

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