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Arms-on: Portal is an immersive Spatial Audio app for focus, sleep, or escape


Ever since Apple announced that Spatial Audio was coming to Apple Music and all devices with an H1 or W1 chip would support it, many companies started to promote this technology. For users who have an AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, this experience is even better thanks to the dynamic head tracking feature.

With that, the indie developers from Portal Labs just updated Portal, their iOS wellbeing app to take full advantage of Spatial Audio technology.

With this update, the team behind Portal explains that they are not using Dolby Atmos, as Apple does with Apple Music, because it’s better suited for music and movies rather than for meditation or immersing yourself in a forest or a campfire. This is why they partnered with Atmoky to implement Ambisonics, which they called “the state-of-the-art Spatial Audio.”

Ambisonics represents sound as a spherical soundfield rather than channels or objects, allowing us to recreate soundscapes and ambience with more precision and fidelity, especially when experienced through headphones as ambisonics can be rendered directly to headphones without requiring additional reverb to be applied for externalisation.

Portal aims to help you focus on a task, sleep better, or simply “escape” using the Spatial Audio technology and a pair of your favorite AirPods.It combines immersive sounds, visuals, and smart lighting to virtually transform existing surroundings and help you relax.

Inside the app, you can choose whether you want to focus, sleep, or escape. Each of these moods has different portals you can jump into. For example, you can immerse yourself with Amazon’s thunderstorm, listen to the breeze of a spring barley field in Devon, UK, or hear the birds chirping with a spring dawn chorus in London.

The best part is that you can take advantage of breathing exercises, set a timer, choose between static Spatial Audio or with dynamic head tracking (AirPods Pro and AirPods Max only), and connect your smart lightning with Homekit, Philips Hue, or Nanoleaf to have a more immersive experience.

“To say we’re excited about this release is a bit of an understatement, Spatial Audio truly comes into its own with ambient sound as it better reflects how we actually hear our surroundings in real life and allows us to really sell the feeling of ‘being there’,” says Nick Daniels, founder of Portal.

Portal is available on the App Store here for iPhones and iPads for free. If you want to take advantage of the most immersive experience with unlimited access to the app entire library, smart lighting integration, and dynamic spatial audio support, users must subscribe to the app. It’s $9.99 per month, $49.99 per year, or $249.99 with a lifetime purchase.

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