Live Listen Makes AirPods Even Better: How It Works

Apple's AirPods could soon become a useful hearing aid in crowded environments.

Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Apple)

The tech giant has quietly added a new feature in iOS 12 called Live Listen that will effectively turn your AirPods into a hearing aid. The feature is designed to address a phenomenon called "hidden hearing loss" when you simply can't hear what someone says because it's too loud in your environment. For instance, if you're at a party and music's playing and you can't hear your friends, AirPods will give you a boost.

According to Cult of Mac, which earlier reported on the feature, you'll activate Live Listen from iOS 12. Simply put on your AirPods and turn on the Live Listen on your iPhone. You'll then want to put your iPhone near the source of the sound you actually want to hear but cannot. The iPhone's microphone will then record in real time what the person is saying and beam it to your AirPods. You'll then be able to turn up the volume on your AirPods to help you hear what he or she is saying.

The feature is among the many changes Apple has brought to iOS 12. Chief among the new features is a way for you to limit the amount of time you're working on your iPhone and to give you greater insight into your time with the device. Apple has also updated Siri, Photos, and several other apps.

The Live Listen feature is something that could come in handy in certain circumstances. But the fact you need to move your phone somewhere else to listen to what someone is saying might not be the best solution. It's fine if it's a friend, but if it's someone you don't know and can't hear, it's probably not the best solution.

Still, it shows a clear desire on Apple's part to improve the integration between iPhone and AirPods.

Apple is launching iOS 12 later this year. If you're willing to take the risk on half-baked software, you can also try out the iOS 12 beta to see all the latest features.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.