When Apple launched the AirPods in 2016, the “truly wireless” earbuds attracted a lot of attention (and imitators, but that is another story). While the Cupertino tech giant has not really upgraded the earbuds, it has been subtly adding features here and there to keep adding value to them and make them stand out from the crowd. Last year, Apple introduced wireless charging with a new case for the earbuds, and this year the change is more software oriented. With the introduction of iOS 12, the company has added a very neat touch to the AirPods which allows you to turn these truly wireless earbuds into makeshift hearing aids, using a feature called Live Listen.

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The feature picks up audio using the microphones present on the AirPods for calling purposes and then enhances and delivers it through the speaker on earbuds, thus allowing you to hear the sounds around you more clearly and at a higher volume. This feature is not only handy for people with mild hearing problems but can also be used when one wants to converse in a noisy environment without having to shout.

How to Use your AirPods as a Hearing Aid

All you gotta do is follow these simple steps to activate Live Listen:

Step 1: Pair your AirPods to your iPhone (Duh!)

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If you have the AirPods then you might already be familiar with the process, but if you are new to the AirPods world, this is how you can connect your AirPods to your iPhone: first, you need to turn on Bluetooth on the iPhone, then open the AirPod case and place it near your iPhone. Once you get the notification on your iPhone, you just have to tap on the “Connect” icon, after which you would be required to long press a tiny circular button at the back of the case. And that should connect your device to the earbuds.

Step 2: Go to Settings and select Control Centre

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Once you have connected the AirPods to your iPhone, you need to look for the Settings App on your iPhone’s screen. After getting into the Settings, you have to scroll down all the way to the Control Centre and select it – it is just below General.

Step 3: Open Customise Controls

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Tapping on Control Centre will open another window having a Customise Control option. Tapping on that will take you to options that are already present on the Control Centre, as well as the ones that you can add to it. Scroll down to find Hearing in the options and tap on the little green plus icon prefixed to the option.

Step 4: Hit the Hearing button

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Hitting the plus icon will add a Hearing option to the existing list options on Control Centre. To access Live Listen, you will need to access Control Centre – you need to swipe up from the bottom of the display on the iPhone 8 Plus and earlier devices whereas, on the iPhone X and its successors, you can get to the Control Centre by swiping down from the top right corner. You will now see the Hearing icon – it has an ear in it (how appropriate!). Tap on the icon to go to the Live Listen mode.

Step 5: Turn the Live Listen Mode on… and listen!

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As soon as you tap on the Hearing icon, you enter Live Listen mode. But the job is not quite done yet. When you get to the mode, you will find it off by default – you will see an off button just below the words Live Listen. You have to tap on the off button, which will turn the mode on – it is a toggle switch. You can also adjust the volume on the Live Listen mode by simply turning the volume on your iPhone up or down as required. And Voila! The device is now a hearing aid. To go back to speaker mode, simply turn Live Listen off.

Note: This feature is most useful when the person you are talking to is nearby as the feature not only enhances the voice of the person speaking to you but also amplifies the ambient noise which sort of defeats the whole purpose of the feature.

Update: Beware, the Live Listen feature on AirPods can be used to eavesdrop on your conversations

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