Apps are funny things. They tend to provide narrow utility -- focusing intensely on one specific thing -- but once you get used to them, you wonder how you lived without them. Take this Awareness! app, for example: it gauges environmental noise levels, sets up a threshold, and then pipes in anything louder than that into your skull alongside your music. Reasons why you'd want that to happen include oncoming SUVs, mothers screaming because their babies are in peril (from oncoming SUVs), or TRAINS, or something as benign as your teacher yelling at you for not paying attention in class. There's a nice set of options too, such as manually adjusting how loud a sound must be to be allowed entry into your cranium, as well as pausing of the app or of your music. Awareness! is available for five bucks on the iPhone and iPod touch, and will soon jump on to the iPad, Android, Symbian, and even the Mac and PC.
This app could have prevented something horrible from happening like this:
12-Year-Old boy Caesar Muloki was killed yesterday by a New Jersey Transit train at 3:15pm. According to the train's engineer, Muloki was listening to his iPod and had his back to the train as he crossed the tracks.
The engineer tried to warn him with the train's horn as he pulled the emergency brake, but the kid either couldn't hear it or ignored the warning. Witnesses say that he was running along the tracks while he suddenly decided to cross them.
Whatever the circumstances, remember that playing music at full volume while going around the city or near a road may not be the best idea. And for the love of everything that is good and furry, don't cross train tracks with or without iPod.