Activate Live Listen for AirPods inside Control Center [Pro tip]

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Activate Live Listen Control Center
Make it easier to hear other people in a crowded room.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Activate Live Listen for AirPods and Powerbeats headphones inside Control Center to make it easier to hear other people in a noisy environment. The feature is built into iPhone and iPad and easy to use.

We’ll show you how.

Live Listen turns your iPhone or iPad into a microphone that sends sound to your AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or Powerbeats Pro. It’s designed to make it easier to hear conversations in a crowded room — or to listen to someone from across a room — and it works brilliantly.

The feature is baked into iOS and iPadOS 14.3 or later and requires no third-party apps. All you need to do is enable it inside Control Center.

How to enable Live Listen in Control Center

First, you’ll need to add the hearing button to your Control Center options by following these steps:

  1. Open Settings and tap Control Center.
  2. Tap the plus button alongside Hearing.

Now, open Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of your screen (or up from the bottom on iPhone models with Touch ID), then tap the hearing button you just added.

This allows you to monitor headphone audio levels in real-time as you’re listening to music and other content. Tap Live Listen to activate the feature and adjust the volume on your iPhone or iPad if necessary.

Activate Live Listen Control Center
Tap the Live Listen button to activate the feature.
Screenshots: Cult of Mac

Now place your device close to the person you want to hear. So long as your iPhone or iPad remain within Bluetooth range of your headphones, you’ll be able to hear the other person’s voice louder and clearer.

To deactivate Live Listen, simply tap the hearing button inside Control Center again, then tap Live Listen.