How to use iOS 12’s Live Listen feature with AirPods

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Bluetooth in iOS 11
AirPods plus iOS 12 equals Live Listen.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Back in 1979, the original Sony Walkman had an odd feature. If you pressed an orange button on the end, a built-in mic would connect to the user’s headphones, letting them hear what was going on in the outside world. This may be the first case of technology being used to mitigate the bad manners surrounding personal audio.

Now, in iOS 12, this type of feature is back — and way more useful than it was in music’s greatest-ever decade. Live Listen is a new iOS 12 feature that pipes live audio from the iPhone’s mic directly to your AirPods. Why? Well, it’s an accessibility feature, but it can be used for much more.

Your AirPods just got way more useful with Live Listen

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airpods
AirPods can help you hear in a crowd thanks to Live Listen, coming in iOS 12.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

WWDC 2018 bug Cult of MacYou’re in a noisy bar or restaurant and can’t hear the person across the table from you. Good news: With a feature added in iOS 12, you can use your AirPods and iPhone as a low-cost hearing aid.

This feature is called Live Listen, and it’s been available for certain hearing aids for some time. But soon, anyone with a pair of Apple’s wireless headphones will be able to use it.