Apple in iOS 12 introduced a new Live Listen feature that's designed to turn the iPhone into a remote microphone for the AirPods.
Live Listen has been around for years for MFi-compatible hearing aids, but it's only with the addition of AirPods support that it became available for general iOS users.
As an enterprising individual discovered on Reddit, the AirPods Live Listen feature can be used as a spying device because it uses the iPhone as a microphone and relays what the iPhone picks up to the AirPods, even if the AirPods are in another room.
So, if you have AirPods (or any other Bluetooth headphones), you can enable Live Listen, leave your phone in one room, and then go into another room, with the iPhone available to relay any "secret" conversations. You do need to be in Bluetooth range, of course, but with AirPods, that can be a decent distance.
We're sure no MacRumors readers are going to use this feature for nefarious purposes, but it's certainly a useful tidbit to be aware of. Live Listen can be enabled in Control Center by following these steps:
- Open the Settings app
- Tap on Control Center
- Tap Customize Controls
- Tap the "+" button next to "Hearing."
Once that's enabled, open up the Control Center, tap on the little ear icon, and then tap Live Listen to turn it on. You'll be able to hear people who are speaking near your iPhone.
Live Listen with AirPods, hearing aids, or other Bluetooth headphones is an invaluable tool for those who have hearing issues, but everyone should be aware that any iPhone can be turned into a remote listening device.