Since 2014, Apple has included a feature in iOS called Live Listen that allows an iPhone or iPad to serve as a remote microphone for an MFI-compatible hearing aid.

When Apple released iOS 12, it added Live Listen support for AirPods and AirPods 2, making it possible to use your iOS device as a directional mic and have the audio relayed to Apple's wireless earphones.

iphone xs and airpods
As an accessibility feature, the idea behind Live Listen is for it to be used by people who are hard of hearing or need extra help separating voices in a loud environment, but it can be useful in other ways, too.

If you're on a family vacation, for instance, you could use your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ as a makeshift baby monitor for when the baby's napping and you're in another room with the TV on. All you'd need to do is put the iOS device near the baby's crib and wear a single AirPod, which should have a strong enough Bluetooth range to allow you to listen in from afar.

Live Listen will work even when other audio is being played on your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ – so you could listen to a podcast, say, and still be keeping tabs on the baby. Just note that whatever it is that you're listening to will switch to mono output to match the Live Listen stream, and the AirPods' tap gestures will be disabled for as long as the feature is active.

Live Listen is easy to set up and use once you know how. The following steps show you how it's done on an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ running iOS 12 or later.

How to Set Up Live Listen on iPhone and iPad

  1. Launch the Settings app on your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌.
  2. Tap Control Center.
    how to set up live listen with airpods

  3. Tap Customize Controls.
  4. Scroll down and tap the green plus (+) button next to Hearing.

How to Use Live Listen on iPhone and iPad

  1. Put your AirPods in and connect them to your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ in the usual way.
  2. Launch Control Center on your iOS device: On an ‌iPad‌ with a Home button, double-tap the Home button; on ‌iPhone‌ 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen; and on a 2018 iPad Pro or ‌iPhone‌ R/X/XS/XS Max, swipe down from the upper right of the screen.
    how to use live listen with airpods

  3. Tap the Hearing icon.
  4. Tap Live Listen.
  5. Place your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ close to the person you want to hear, preferably in front of them.

If the output to your AirPods is too quiet or too loud, use the volume buttons on your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ to adjust the volume level.

live listen not working airpods
If you see the message "Unavailable for current route" when you try to turn on Live Listen, restarting your iOS device and then forgetting and re-connecting your AirPods in the Settings app's Bluetooth menu should fix the issue.

Related Roundup: AirPods 3
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

iLoveDeveloping Avatar
46 months ago
Wow I knew nothing of this. Is it just me or do apple do a terrible job these days of actually telling users about features? I remember when the iPhone / iPod came out, for years almost every feature was explained and used in marketing on the website, i have literally found features on my phone by accident since getting a new iPhone8 that I didn’t even knew it had or how they worked. And I used to be a developer for 3 years, I can’t image how older users like my parents would even know how to use some thing or if they were even there in the first place. Apple is really doing a lousy job especially in the last 2-3 years in this regard (yes sales are through the roof but I’m specifically talking about informing users about great little features, and that silly tips app is a joke). It’s now more of an ‘object’, who cares what it does just look how pretty it is. A far cry from the jobs days.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kagee1 Avatar
46 months ago
Wow I knew nothing of this. Is it just me or do apple do a terrible job these days of actually telling users about features? I remember when the iPhone / iPod came out, for years almost every feature was explained and used in marketing on the website, i have literally found features on my phone by accident since getting a new iPhone8 that I didn’t even knew it had or how they worked. And I used to be a developer for 3 years, I can’t image how older users like my parents would even know how to use some thing or if they were even there in the first place. Apple is really doing a lousy job especially in the last 2-3 years in this regard (yes sales are through the roof but I’m specifically talking about informing users about great little features, and that silly tips app is a joke). It’s now more of an ‘object’, who cares what it does just look how pretty it is. A far cry from the jobs days.
I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps Apple has gotten “too big for its britches.”
[doublepost=1541422111][/doublepost
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sunapple Avatar
46 months ago
Wow I knew nothing of this. Is it just me or do apple do a terrible job these days of actually telling users about features? I remember when the iPhone / iPod came out, for years almost every feature was explained and used in marketing on the website, i have literally found features on my phone by accident since getting a new iPhone8 that I didn’t even knew it had or how they worked. And I used to be a developer for 3 years, I can’t image how older users like my parents would even know how to use some thing or if they were even there in the first place. Apple is really doing a lousy job especially in the last 2-3 years in this regard (yes sales are through the roof but I’m specifically talking about informing users about great little features, and that silly tips app is a joke). It’s now more of an ‘object’, who cares what it does just look how pretty it is. A far cry from the jobs days.
I'm sorry, but nowadays there're just a lot more features than five years ago and finding those features, the important ones, is still very easy. This has zero to do with Jobs.

https://www.apple.com/accessibility/
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FloatingBones Avatar
46 months ago
Wow I knew nothing of this. Is it just me or do apple do a terrible job these days of actually telling users about features?
The Apple Store's Today at Apple ('https://www.apple.com/today/') sessions are an excellent way to find out about how to do things. I recently attended four of these sessions with a friend for learning iPad skills. This was an excellent way for my non-techie friend to get up to speed on iOS/iPad, but the bonus was how much I learned during the process.

I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps Apple has gotten “too big for its britches.”
Have either of you attended any TaA sessions? Apple's instructors will cover the material for a particular session, plus questions/issues that students have. It kept some of the best features of the old One to One ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_to_One_(Apple)') product: anyone can ask anything in the sessions, and the instructors will work hard to address those questions with the student -- either during the session or in a few minutes afterwards.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
anker 563 dock ports

Anker's Latest USB-C Docking Station Brings Triple-Display Support to M1 Macs

Wednesday May 18, 2022 7:06 am PDT by
While Apple's early M1-based Macs can only officially support a single external display, there are ways around the limitation. Anker is launching a new 10-in-1 USB-C docking station today which delivers just that. The Anker 563 USB-C dock includes two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort port, and it leverages DisplayLink to carry multiple video signals over a single connection. Given that this hub...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
Whatsapp Feature

WhatsApp to Let Users Leave Group Chats 'Silently' and View Rich Link Previews in Status Updates

Tuesday May 17, 2022 3:07 am PDT by
WhatsApp is working on a new feature that will allow users to "silently" leave group chats hosted by the messaging platform instead of all members of the group being notified when they do. As it stands, when someone leaves a group chat, WhatsApp announces their exit to the entire group, making the act of leaving very public. It's not possible right now to leave a group quietly, but WhatsApp...
apple data auction iphone privacy ad

Apple Highlights iPhone's Latest Privacy Features in New 'Data Auction' Ad

Wednesday May 18, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
Apple today shared a new ad highlighting iPhone privacy features like App Tracking Transparency and Mail Privacy Protection that are designed to give users more transparency and control when it comes to their personal data being collected. The ad revolves around a young woman named Ellie who discovers that her personal data is being sold at an auction house, with bids being placed on her...
airpodsproinear

Apple Facing Lawsuit After AirPods Allegedly Ruptured Child's Eardrums With Amber Alert

Tuesday May 17, 2022 11:40 am PDT by
Apple's AirPods ruptured the eardrums of a 12-year-old boy in 2020 when a loud Amber Alert was issued, according to a lawsuit filed against Apple in California (via Law360). The child, identified as B.G. in the filing, was watching a movie on Netflix on his iPhone in 2020 while wearing AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro were allegedly set at a low volume, but an Amber Alert sounded without warning ...
apple store palo alto

Apple Reinstating Employee Mask Mandate at Approximately 100 U.S. Retail Stores

Tuesday May 17, 2022 11:11 am PDT by
Apple retail employees at around 100 stores will need to go back to wearing a mask while working, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple is mandating masks for employees again due to a rising number of COVID cases across the United States. Customers who visit an Apple Store are not required to wear a mask at this time, but Apple is continuing to recommend masks for all Apple Store...