In 2016, Apple released AirPods, and they are more than just an iteration of the classic Apple earbuds. An iOS 12 update included an important accessibility feature called Live Listen that can help people hear conversations more clearly in noisy areas or across a room, but you’ve likely noticed a different use for them trending as of late. In recent days, the internet has discovered that Live Listen can be used for a different purpose: listening on far-away conversations. To help you get in on the sneaky action, here’s how to use Apple AirPods for eavesdropping with Live Listen. Why would you need this info? Well, sometimes you just need to let out your inner spy self.
On Jan. 9, Twitter user @arnoldcrndo tweeted, “If u have AirPods, u can press ‘Live Listen’ to ‘On’ and leave your phone in the room with someone and u can hear what they saying, thank me later.” Though the tweet went viral recently, people have been talking about this use for the Live Listen feature for some time, with mentions of the use way back in June 2018, when the iOS 12 update was announced and the developer beta version was release. At that time, Twitter user @nick130586 wrote:
iOS 12 + Live Listen + AirPods = perfect for eavesdropping
Apple has two webpages explaining the Live Listen feature. One page explains how to use Live Listen with Made for iPhone hearing aids, which act like a “remote microphone,” which will send sounds to Made for iPhone hearing aids, per the site. Another page simply states you can use Live Listen with AirPods to “help you hear a conversation in a noisy area or even hear someone speaking across the room,” per the website.
So if you don’t already use Live Listen, how do you do set it up? Eagle-eyed iPhone user @arnoldcrndo explained the steps for this followers. First make sure your AirPods are charged and connect your Apple device with Bluetooth. Then, tap on Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls > Hearing. To activate Live Listen, swipe up from the home screen to the Control Center and tap the icon with the ear on it. From there you can turn Live Listen on.
Then, just leave your phone wherever you think the most tea is being spilled, and you’ll pick up on the juicy deets without anyone being the wiser. But, obviously, you should probably only leave your phone somewhere you know it won’t be snatched.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter has a lot to say about this feature. One Twitter user,@ marrrthedonn, wrote, “[T]hat live listen on these airpods gone get somebody feelings hurt.” Another user, @aintwithit_, wrote, “I wish I had AirPods when I was younger so I could live listen after being told to leave for the ‘big people conversation.’”
Here are some more hilarious reactions from the Twitterverse.
Live Listen was part of the iOS 12 update, which was officially released on Sept. 17, which also introduced the Screen Time feature, Portrait Mode improvements, and a new For You tab in Photos. One of the more notable new features from iOS 12 was the iPhone X Animoji update that included a ghost, koala, tiger and a T. Rex Animoji through the iPhone X’s front-facing camera. In addition to the new characters, the update was expanded to “feature winks and tongue detection to capture even more expressions.”
Though iOS 12 was filled with fun updates and general goodness, the latest iOS update is proving to be just the opposite. According to reports, the iOS 12.1.2 update has a problem that is leaving iOS users unable to connect to cellular data. Some users are also experiencing problems with e-SIM activation for iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Apple has not yet released an update to fix the bug.
Among all the updates that came out with iOS 12, Live Listen is most likely the one to help you live out all your Spy Kids dreams.