App Review: Noisli

Image of a woman typing on an Apple computer, the phrase, App Review:, and the Noisli logoFull disclosure: I did not receive any compensation, financial, or otherwise, in any shape, form, type, or sort for using, reviewing, or mentioning the Noisli app.

Are you looking for a different type of productivity app?

One that lets you drown out background noise and conversations…and helps you to focus on your work?

In this post, I review the productivity app, Noisli (by Noisli Ltd).

Noisli offers a variety of sounds to help you focus, relax, and you guessed it, be more productive.

App Review: Noisli

I stumbled upon Noisli a couple of weeks ago in an online article. Noisli claims you can “block out annoying noises, get quickly into the zone, increase productivity, and reduce stress.”

I sometimes listen to music as I work, and the idea of a simple and convenient sound generator appealed to me, so I thought I might as well give it a try.

I tried out the app online at Noisli.com and downloaded the new Google Chrome extension.

My favorite parts of Noisli are it’s simplicity and flexibility. When it comes to simplicity, everything is laid out in the app in a visually-appealing format.

I was able to jump right in and start playing with the different sound settings right away.

There’s quite a variety of natural and man-made sounds on the app, including:

  • Steady rainfall
  • Blowing wind
  • Rustling leaves
  • Rushing water
  • Waves breaking on a shoreline
  • Fire crackling
  • Coffee shop chatter
  • Sound of an oscillating fan
  • A train running on the tracks
  • Birds chirping in a forest
  • Crickets chirping at night
  • The sound of thunder
  • Water dripping from a faucet
  • …And a trio of white noise generators

Unfortunately, the above list doesn’t do the sounds any justice to the sounds. You just have to try them out to experience them for yourself.

Screenshot of the sound selection window of the productivity app, Noisli.
The Noisli app sound screen. Image courtesy Noisli, Ltd.

As I was saying, I fiddled with a few different sounds, and also tested out the different sound modes on the site.

There’s a random mode that will play a combination of sounds, you guessed it, randomly, a productivity mode that plays productivity-type sounds (the combinations that came up for me were wind and crackling fire, and rainfall and a train on the tracks), and a relax mode (I got crickets chirping and waves breaking on the beach).

Flexibility-wise, Noisli allows you to really mix up sounds as you please.

You can play as many different sounds as you like at the same time, and you can control their individual volume levels.

Want to have coffee shop chatter with the faint roar of a thunderstorm in the background? No problem!

Yearning for the sound of a babbling brook with birds chirping in the forest behind you?

Or how about the sound of a dripping faucet?

It’s all possible with Noisli.

What’s more, you can create and can save up to five combinations of your favorite sounds. You can then share your creative combinations with your family, friends, and colleagues on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or by HTML link.

There’s two additional features in Noisli that are worth mentioning; the timer, and the text editor. Since I only used the app on the website and the Chrome extension, I can only really comment on the online version of these features.

If you’ve been following my work here on The Order Expert, you know I’m a strong advocate of using a timer as you work. Noisli has conveniently built this into their app to use alongside your sound combinations.

You can set the timer to any configuration of hours, minutes, or seconds, and can even set the sound to fade out at five, 15, and 30 seconds, respectively. I tried the sound timer out on a few occasions, and it worked like a charm.

Screenshot of the text editor in the productivity app, Noisli.
View of the Noisli Text Editor. Image courtesy of Noisli, Ltd.

The text editor is just as it seems; it’s a space to write text or markdown syntax. To try this out, I went to the Noisli website and started to write away…distraction-free. 

If desired, you could pull up your favorite sound combinations, set a timer, switch to the text editor, and get a chunk of work done.

Keep in mind the text editor is in beta version, so it’s probably a good idea to save your work frequently via text file, DropBox, or Google Drive.

So, are you wondering if I got more work done using Noisli?

I’m not quite sure. I have to say certain sounds did appear to energize me more than others as I worked, so that is something worthwhile.

I could see using the app as a relaxation tool, perhaps if you’re having a difficult time falling asleep, or want to listen to something calming as you meditate, or sit quietly for a few moments after a hectic day.

Do I have any major issues with Noisli? Not really. There’s a few minor items I want to point out…

I’m not completely sold on the background color of the app’s website changing every few moments. Supposedly these changing colors are meant to be some sort of color therapy, but I personally found this to be distracting.

It was only after a few minutes of searching that I was able to find a way to stop the background from changing. I clicked the gear-shaped widget on the left-hand side of the website and selected “Stop Bkg.” (I’ll be honest, it took me a minute to figure out what “Bkg” meant. It might help to have the word “background” spelled out for easy reference?).

I’d like to see some added functionality for the background in updated versions of the app, perhaps a color palette selection, or the ability to change the speed of the changing background colors.

Secondly, while the text editor is a nice idea, I don’t know if I’d rely on using it solely as a writing platform. The app says that files will be saved locally, but I couldn’t seem to find where those files might be.

Again, this might be because I only used the online version of the text editor, it might be different for iTunes version of the app itself. As I mentioned earlier, the text editor is in beta version, so I really shouldn’t judge too harshly on that count.

I did run into one little snag using the app, but this was my own fault, rather an issue with the app itself. At one point I heard duplicate sounds coming from my computer.

It turns out I was using both the Chrome extension and the website version of the app at the same time. After a few puzzled moments, I realized my error and closed out of a couple of windows. Problem solved.

If you want to use the app, I recommend using only app source at a time. Otherwise, you’ll get an accidental earful.

Overall, I’d recommend Noisli to anyone who is looking for a way to use sound to help them focus and relax. It’s a lovely little app!

Ready to give Noisli a try? You can download the app for iPhone and iPad on iTunes, get the free Google Chrome extension, or use the app directly on the app’s website, www.noisli.com.

How about you? Do you use music or sounds to help you focus on your work? Are you thinking about giving Noisli a try? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Full disclosure: I did not receive any compensation, financial, or otherwise, in any shape, form, type, or sort for using, reviewing, or mentioning the Noisli app.

Special thanks to Sabine at Noisli Ltd. for use of the Noisli logo and screenshots. 

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.

4 Responses

  1. Bookit
    |

    I use Focus@will. It allows you to set timers, choose your energy level and even has a sound category for ADHD. Because it is a separate app, I can use it with any program – word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, grading papers.

    • Rashelle
      |

      Thanks for the suggestion, Bookit. I’ve heard about Focus@will, but didn’t know about that sound category for ADHD. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Andrey
    |

    Here is free alternative for Android devices: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.essenly.naturesound

    • Rashelle
      |

      Thanks for sharing, Andrey!