I am new to the world of utilising White noise as a medium to emulate specific types of background noise to help sleep, relax or focus when writing even though I am aware of its existence. Music is the only tried and trusted medium I have used up until now. I had the chance to help Beta test the development of Dark Noise by iOS developer Charlie Chapman, which also prompted me to further look into the whole world of using White noise for relaxation and focus as an alternative to listening to music. I can safely say Dark Noise has introduced an incredibly reliable tool that reenacts the effects of noise to enter a calm, relaxed or focused state.
The App Store currently has a significant amount of White noise apps, but having been on the Dark Noise Beta since version 1.0 - if memory serves me right - and watching the app evolve to what it is now has had an unexpected magnetic effect that draws me towards it every time I think about exploring other apps of that ilk from the App Store. The simple reason being the incredibly beautiful design, simplicity, functionality and realism of the sounds in the app.
Dark Noise currently has a sound library of over 30+ noises with categories ranging from Water, Nature, Urban, Appliances, Fire, and for any unique users who like the sound of snoring, the Human category has you covered. Noises, crafted from a mixture of available royalty-free public domain sounds with enhancements for suitability with Dark Noise for better realism and what impresses me the most; the developers own original recordings of sounds. Touching on the noise authenticity, the combination of the HomePod audio technology with its all-encompassing sense of space and the realism of the sounds from Dark Noise fills the room replicating a true to form sense of being in the environment the noises are emulating, especially when listening to the Office and Coffee Shop noises in my case.
My one feature wish is to have the functionality to create noise playlists, where noises can be queued and automatically play after a set amount of time.
You know you've got the app design right when a fellow respected developer of a White noise app tweets you about how impressed he is with your app and would probably recommend it above his.
Designed with simplicity in mind; the simplicity and functionality are what I value the most. Not a single part of the app setup or interaction is trivial and require instructions. It has a clear set of general and advanced options for the user to personalise the experience of how they want the app to function interactively; haptic feedback, auto-play on open option and visually; selection of crafted themes including Dark and Light mode, app icons (If you're into tech podcasts you'll love the choices), and glorious noise icon animations with motion graphics that makes me wish for an Apple TV app. Watching the noise icon animations on the TV with background themes automatically switching will be a delight and adds to the relaxation effect.
The Play user interface screen consists of carefully selected and easily reachable set of controls that are tucked low level on the bottom half of the screen on the iPhone, with the play button just above them allowing the noise icon to take center stage with its delightful motion graphics for that particular noise. As the Steve Jobs saying goes: "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works", this is undoubtedly true for Dark Noise, no complicated interactions whatsoever. Simple and straight to the point in as few taps as possible, right from the first time launching the app to configuring your preferences in settings.
The ease of which to invoke play of your favourite noises is remarkable, Dark Noise supports the use of customisable widget which can display favourite noises or recently played noise to activate with a single tap, users can also force touch on the app icon to play noise with a selection of other functions or activate the option to 'Auto-Play on Open' from settings, which enables the app to automatically start playing from launch. If you are in a position that restricts activation of a noise physically, you can use Siri shortcuts automation to start playing a noise. The noises can be played directly on the device or use AirPlay to play the noise on an Apple TV or HomePod.
I haven't yet utilised Dark Noise app to help me sleep, planning to do so soon. Its effectiveness in helping me focus has been tremendous, and it has dethroned my use of music for such situations.
You can hear more about the development and plans for Dark Noise on The Outpost Show podcast where the developer discussed the process and evolution of the app from a little ‘learning project' to what could now potentially be the best app of its kind on iOS.