There are a lot of cool, hidden features buried inside your iPhone’s settings menu.
There’s a new tip that’s going viral on Twitter that allows you to use your iPhone as a microphone, and listen to what it records through your wireless AirPods headphones, even if you’re far away.
One tweet describing the feature, “Live Listen,” has been retweeted over 47,000 times.
Some people are c reeped out by the feature, saying it could cause issues by allowing people to use an iPhone as a spy device. Even the person who made the viral tweet suggests it could be used as a way to cheat on a test.
One person suggested that abusing the feature could be illegal in some states.
It turns out, the feature has nothing to do with spying. It’s an accessibility-oriented feature for people with hearing loss.
The “Live Listen” feature was introduced in an iPhone software update in September for Apple’s AirPods. It was previously available for a few models of Apple-certified hearing aids.
Here’s how it works. You turn it on, and then you point your iPhone’s microphone at the person you want to hear speaking. Then, you can hear what they have to say through your hearing aid or AirPods, carried over the air through Bluetooth.
It’s intended for people who use hearing aids to hear better in noisy environments, like in in a crowded restaurant or in a lecture hall.
Here’s how Apple describes it:
“Made for iPhone hearing aids, sound processors, and now AirPods can help you have better conversations in loud places. Just turn on the Live Listen feature and move your iPhone toward the people you’re talking with.¹ Live Listen uses the microphone to pick up what they’re saying more clearly.”
Of course, it’s not intended to be a full replacement for a hearing aid, which can cost thousands, but a helpful feature for anyone who might need to hear better in a given environment. If you think you need hearing aids, you should still speak to your doctor.
But if you have an iPhone and a pair of AirPods, it’s easy to test out and see if it could help you. Here’s how you do it.
First, you need to turn the feature on in your control center. You can do that by going to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Turn on Hearing.
Then put your AirPods in your ears. Swipe either up or down to access the control center, and tap the ear icon. It should say “Live Listen On.”
To get clear audio in your AirPods, simply point the bottom of your iPhone at the source of the sound. You can’t get too far away from your phone, because the sound is transmitted through Bluetooth. Be responsible!