Portal’s beautiful design, emphasis on relaxation, and impressive bonus features make it one of the best soundscape apps out there
Size: 322.8 MB
Seller: Portal Labs Ltd
Platform: iPhone & iPad
You may be a big fan of ambient-noise soundscape apps, or you may never have used one. If you haven’t tried Portal, though, you’re definitely missing out. This truly is the soundscape app to rule them all: with a range of modes, deep breathing exercises, 3D audio, and even Philips Hue support, Portal really does have everything you could possibly wish for … almost.
Portal is based around three core uses: to focus, to sleep, or to escape. But at its heart is the idea that when you launch the app, you’re transported into another world via a virtual portal, which lets you peek in on a whole range of different real-world environments – from tranquil Isle of Skye to thundery Slovenia. Not only will a relaxing soundscape play in full 3D audio, but your device’s screen will also display a gentle video, allowing you to enjoy the environment visually, too. It’s a nice touch which really sets the tone for relaxation.
When you’re listening to a portal, the options available on-screen depend on the mode you’ve chosen. Focus mode includes the option to set a “focused task” or a timer. Sleep also lets you set an alarm. Most impressively, the Escape mode includes guided breathing exercises, allowing users to dabble with relaxation techniques. Guided meditation – which isn’t currently available – could make this mode even more valuable for users.
Portal goes the extra mile, however, through offering support for Philips Hue smart bulbs. In all three modes, Hue owners can hook Portal up with their lights in order to create the ultimate immersive effect. When connected, your smart lights will change color in order to match your chosen portal – a green hue for the Redwood National Park, or a rose hue for Dawn at Lake Bled.
You can browse the full selection of portals in the app’s library interface. There, portals are grouped by collection or use. To access all of Portal’s soundscapes, though, you’ll need to be a subscriber: full access will set you back $30/£30 per year (although a free trial is available). While a definite investment, it’s good to see that Portal’s developers are actively adding new soundscapes to the app – the next to arrive will be a UK-centric Devon & Cornwall collection.
On top of that, users have access to a range of settings that let them tweak the user interface, audio, and Hue-connected lighting in order to create a truly personalized effect. It’s true that there are plenty of soundscape apps on the App Store – with Wild Journey particularly coming to mind as a similar experience. Where Portal differs is in its dedication to real-world locations as opposed to abstract imaginary soundscapes. The app’s three modes, audio-visual portals, and Hue connectivity truly make this app a cut above the rest.