This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Sixteen Zen, Relaxation, and Meditation Apps. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Five different apps have been designed to create peaceful, relaxing sounds, letting you use earphones or speakers to drown out distracting noises in your environment. The two heavy-hitters in this category are Ambiance ($1) by Matt Coneybeare and aSleep ($1) from Signs Studios.
aSleep has more sounds—49—and a nicer-looking, if less feature-laden interface. You still get a timer with minute-level control over turning on or off, but there aren’t any settings for fade effects or behaviors once the timer expires; there’s also a volume control that affects the headphone port and Dock Connector. Unlike Ambiance, you can scroll through sound effects without stopping the currently playing one—a feature Ambiance needs—and the effects are sorted by category: “nature,” “life,” “noise,” “instrument,” and “sounds.” The latter two categories actually consist of musical tracks, including song loops played by specific instruments, four meditation options, two relaxing options, and so on.
Which of these two apps is better? That’ll depend to some extent on what you’re looking for, but we preferred Ambiance. It does a much better job of offering legitimately relaxing audio, as we found that in addition to producing harsher sounds, aSleep has a whole bunch that sound like fillers—really annoying loops rather than legitimately relaxing or good tracks. We also liked the fader features in Ambiance, though aSleep’s interface was a little easier to use, and some users may find the stronger sounds more distracting than Ambiance’s milder ones. We’d rate Ambiance an A- and aSleep a B+, substantially because of their reasonable prices.
Company and Price
Company: Signs Studios
Compatible: iPhones, iPod touches