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Review: The app formerly known as H_ _r

Hear the world in a new way with this audio manipulation app

Price: Free
Version: 0.3.2
Size: 4.9 MB
Developer: Reality Jockey
Platform: iPhone / iPad


Say that again? That’s an odd name isn’t it? It sure is – and according to a quick update following the app’s initial release, the developers are currently trying to think of a new one. The app launched back in May with the simplistic but functional title Hear. However, the developer was eventually contacted by another company that claimed to have the exclusive rights to the word Hear and they’d have to change the name of the app.


The design is spacious and pleasant to look at

The design is spacious and pleasant to look at

Though this is far from the most interesting part of the app, we felt the slightly bizarre name was worth addressing at the top, because this app is absolutely worth having a play with. So, what is it? H_ _r is a soundscape app which uses the microphone on your Apple earbuds, or third-party headphones that come with a microphone, to manipulate background and foreground noise to produce a result that matches the purpose of various modes. There are seven modes to choose from, which range from useful, to interesting, to trippy, to silly, to relaxing. Despite only having seven modes, H_ _r covers a whole range of uses. Let’s break these down.

Super hearing This could be described as the app’s ‘flagship’ mode. It enables users to hear things they might not otherwise pick up. This is great for walking the streets, and as others walk past you you can catch a snippet of conversation that will otherwise pass you by. It’s interesting because at other times you’ll hear a distant dog bark, or a car rev around the corner that you might not otherwise notice. It’s pretty random what you might hear, but that’s why it’s so interesting.

Auto Volume This is great for when you want to concentrate. It essentially blocks out all noise (or rather doesn’t pick anything up) but appears to recognize when someone is talking to you and amplifies that through the headphones so you don’t miss what they say. This one is a bit hit or miss and the presence of the disembodied voice is jarring and often distorts to a point where you can’t hear the voice anyway.

Relax This is easily one of the best modes. It essentially harmonizes all the sounds that the microphone picks up from the shuffle of a jacket to a cough producing guitar-like strums and other musical notes that jump around in pitch. Very effective, and essentially provides you with an endless, natural soundtrack to zen-out to.

All the various modes are customizable

All the various modes are customizable

Happy The idea here is to turn the sounds around you into ‘Ecstatic cascades of happiness!’ In reality it’s a bit of a mess and probably the weakest result we experienced. But as with many of these sounds the environment you’re in will dictate its quality. Our lack of connection with this one probably tells us we should be spending more time outside.

Talk Another very good one – trippy, odd, soothing, and often downright funny. The app pretty effectively autotunes any voices talking around you into music. Very effective in an office with a handful of strong voices.

Office Speaking of the office, this mode is also good at helping users detach from an often loud and distracting environment by scrambling the sounds they’re hearing into something with little to focus on allowing you to concentrate on the task(s) at hand.

Sleep Finally, we have Sleep. This turns the sounds around you into echoes and can frequently be trippy. The idea is this kickstarts some surreal dreams, but in reality, unless you live in a big, bustling city, or surrounded by wildlife, you’re unlikely to notice much happening. Could be one to try on the next camping trip.

Fingers crossed the app will sort its naming problems

Fingers crossed the app will sort its naming problems

Despite some of these being hit and miss, H_ _r has enough entertainment value in what is quite a straightforward and easy to use app that makes it worth the price. Even better, all modes can be customized by tweaking the presence, or bass or volume of each mode. Also, if you leave the app, the sounds will continue to come through meaning you can do other things on your device while still experiencing the app. Hopefully H_ _r will sort out their naming problem soon and get some of its identity back.