When I first opened Ambiance, I was a little unsure about how much I could make use of it. A day later, my words eaten and my sleep improved, it has already earned a spot on the second row of my iPhone.
Ambiance by Urban Apps is a collection of sounds that vary from calming to plain silly. You can make use of the search function to locate sounds ranging from meditation chakras to children’s laughter and preview them before downloading the full version. Ambiance allows users to download an unlimited number of sounds and then arrange them into playlists.
I found many of the sounds, such as “Rain and Thunder” and “Lake”, to be conducive to work and study. For those of us who can’t stand total silence while working, but get easily distracted by playing TV or music in the background, this app provides the perfect compromise. The sound of wind chimes can easily temper the barking dog next door or the car alarm down the block and allow you to concentrate.
In terms of the app’s effectiveness as a sleep aid, I can personally testify to the ability of “Ocean Waves” to bring about swift slumber. When using the app to fall asleep the timer function comes in handy. Set it for 30 minutes, and the sound you play to lull you to sleep won’t continue long after you’re deep in REM and drain the battery on your phone.
If you hate being jolted awake by the harsh sounds of your alarm clock, Ambiance offers a solution. An alarm clock function allows you to set any of your downloaded sounds to wake you up in the morning. And, really, who wouldn’t rather be eased into consciousness by loons or waterfalls than by those aggressive beeps?
Ambiance also allows you to easily activate the iPod function on your iPhone from within the app, so you can play a particular sound in concert with songs from your iPod. The volume for the song and the Ambiance sound can be adjusted separately. Other features of the app include the ability to mix multiple sounds and a favorites list.
The only gripe I have with the app is that you are unable to keep it running while you do other things on your iPhone. That isn’t a design fail on the part of the creators, but rather the result of an Apple policy that denies apps the ability to run in the background. Still, it hinders the usability of the app depending on how often you will need to access other functions on your phone while using Ambiance.
All things considered, whether you are in need of a sleep aid, alarm clock, or a something to drown out the crying baby downstairs, Ambiance is worth checking out.
Ambiance requires the iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with both iPhone and iPod Touch.