I’ve recently started discovering, actually rediscovering, something about my devices. They make a lot of sounds.

For years I’ve been pretty strict about keeping my devices muted. For my iPhone it kind of made sense when out in public or in the office, so that it wasn’t distracting to others. From there it just became a habit and I kept mute on all the time. This, then progressed to my laptop and iPad. For the most part this didn’t bother me. Adapted and didn’t really miss anything. I turned on the haptic vibrations for notifications on my iPhone for when I needed to be alerted to something and all was good.

Then the quarantines started.

Working remote required us to start doing more video calls to communicate with the team. Oh iPhone and iPad I can leave the device muted and still have a video call with no issues. However, on my MacBook if the device is muted then I can’t hear the participants. Since we could have multiple calls during a day I started leaving my laptop unmuted. Then all of a sudden I noticed some peculiar things. I was hearing sounds from apps that I didn’t even realize made sound for some actions. Yes, mostly this is from notifications but some apps have audio sounds for other actions to indicate either a success or failure response to the user.

At first it was a bit jarring, mostly because my volume was turned up and it was loud. But the more it continued I kind of enjoyed it. It was like rediscovering a hidden feature that has been lost. Obviously, if you get lots of notifications this can get annoying fast, I’m looking at you Slack. But overall it is pleasant and adds a new experience to using an app that I have forgotten about. The developers go through a lot of work to get sounds that work for their apps and to help with the user experience and so much of the time this little detail is lost because we’ve decided that noise on devices is bad and immediately mute them once we turn them on.

I’m still keeping my iPhone on permanent silent mode for now, but may reevaluate it later on. It’s only been a few weeks, so we’ll see how it goes long term, but for now I’m enjoying this.