Apple's New Background Noises Feature Makes Sad Songs Sadder - Rolling Stone
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iPhones Added Background Noises to Help You Focus. People Are Using Them to Cry

Just in time for the second pandemic winter, a new iOS feature is helping sad souls add rain noises to breakup songs

Man Crying

Man Crying

Wayhome Studio/Adobe Stock

With the rollout of iOS 15 this week, along with significant updates to apps like FaceTime and Safari, Apple quietly released background sounds — a nifty new feature that allows iPhone users to turn on classic ambient noises like rain, ocean waves and the trickling of a river stream, to help them focus or sleep. But it took users little time to find an unintended new purpose as summer ends and we enter the gloomier second half of the year: Making sad songs even sadder.

As users across TikTok and Twitter have pointed out, adding background noises can make listening more immersive, which means that river streams coupled with the Beatles’ “Mother Nature’s Son” can take listeners to a sunny golden field outdoors, and ocean waves can add a certain dramatic flair to “Summertime Sadness.” And the rain can add a new level of coziness to vibey songs — but, most apparently, it can turn any already-sad song into a sob fest.

@lauren.ramos

#ios15 shitting tears rn

♬ YKWIM only lower on the fretboard – ihatetoi

Turning on the new feature is easy. One need only go to the accessibility tab under settings then scroll down to audio/visual. Background sounds can be turned on there with options including three white noise sounds along with rain, ocean and stream. Once background sounds are on, go to Apple Music or Spotify, and pull up Frank Ocean’s “Ivy” or maybe Taylor Swift’s “August” — and focus on the fusion of downpour with the songs’ general morose tone as you reminisce about a still-smarting heartbreak, build out fictional memories of a life that never came to be with a crush, or just contemplate how alone you really are this autumn. (Not that I have any leftover angst from my own moody teenage years, or anything.)

For your convenience, we made a playlist featuring nothing sad songs you can try the feature out on — its efficacy probably peaks at around 2 a.m. — although listening to Blonde in its entirety instead will likely have the same effect.

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