How To Turn On and Use Live Listen With Your AirPods or Beats

  • Discover how Apple’s Live Listen feature can enhance your hearing experience with AirPods and Beats.
  • Check out Live Listen vs Transparency Mode: similar features with unique benefits and distinct differences.
  • Embrace Live Listen responsibly – a powerful tool for the hearing impaired that shouldn’t be used to invade others’ privacy.
turn on live listen iphone airpods

Apple’s innovative technology has consistently enhanced our experiences, making the seemingly impossible, possible. One such feature that has been a game-changer for people with hearing impairments is the Live Listen. This article provides an in-depth view of Live Listen, including how to use it, its intended purpose, and potential misuse.

How Does Live Listen Work on AirPods?

The Live Listen feature was initially designed to assist people who are hard of hearing. By turning your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a remote microphone that sends sound to your AirPods or Beats, Live Listen provides an audio boost to help users hear more clearly in noisy environments.

Live Listen has an operational limit of 15 meters. If you exceed this distance, the feature may not work or the audio from your AirPods might be interrupted.

How Do I Turn On Hearing on AirPods?

Add Live Listen to Control Centre

Setting up Live Listen is a straightforward process.

  1. First, make sure your iOS device is paired with any of the Live Listen compatible devices: AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro, or Beats Fit Pro.

  2. Navigate to your Settings, and tap on Control Center.

    control center iphone

  3. Add Hearing to your active controls by tapping the plus icon next to the Hearing (ear) icon.

    hearing in control center

Use Live Listen

  1. Access the Control Center on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
  2. Click on the icon that represents Hearing.
    hearing in control center icon
  3. Select the option for Live Listen.
  4. Position your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch near the individual whose voice you want to amplify. If the sound isn’t clear or loud enough, feel free to tweak the volume settings on your device.

To utilize Live Listen with an externally wired microphone, simply plug the microphone into your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using the Lightning port or headphone jack.

Can You Live Listen on an Android?

You can’t use the iPhone feature on Android. However, there are credible applications you can download onto an Android phone that allow you to audibly monitor the surrounding environment directly from your device just as you would do with Live Listen.

How Do I Turn Off Live Listen?

To turn off Live Listen, go to your iPhone’s Control Center and tap the ear icon. This will bring up the Hearing controls where you can toggle off Live Listen.

Can You Turn on Live Listen With Siri?

Absolutely, you can turn on Live Listen with Siri. After you have added “Hearing” to your Control Center as detailed in the steps above, simply ask Siri to enable Live Listen.

How Do I Turn on Live Listen Without AirPods?

It’s possible to use Live Listen without AirPods by using a compatible hearing device. The prerequisites include an iPhone or iPad with iOS 12.2 or later and a compatible hearing device such as Made for iPhone Hearing Devices, Made for iPad Hearing Devices, or Made for iPod touch Hearing Devices.

To set this up, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Control Center on your iPhone.
    control center iphone
  2. Tap the plus sign next to Hearing to add it to your Control Center.
    hearing in control center
  3. Once you’ve added this, you can open Control Center and click on the icon that represents Hearing.
  4. Select the option for Live Listen and then adjust the audio volume that will open in the new window to your comfort.

Potential Misuse of Live Listen

While this feature is designed to assist those with hearing impairments, it also opens up possibilities for misuse. With the ability to turn your iOS device into a remote microphone, users could hypothetically use Live Listen to eavesdrop on conversations from a distance. While this scenario may be tempting to some, it’s crucial to remember the intended purpose of Live Listen: to assist, not to spy.

Before attempting any eavesdropping, it’s crucial to understand the legal repercussions involved. U.S. law, specifically the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), makes it illegal to intentionally intercept private conversations using any electronic device without consent. Violation of these laws can result in severe penalties, including fines up to $250,000 and a prison sentence up to five years.

While there are certain exemptions to these laws, it’s crucial to use the Live Listen feature responsibly and within legal boundaries.

Why Is Live Listen Not Showing Up?

If Live Listen isn’t showing up, it’s likely that you haven’t added it to your Control Center. To do this, go to Settings -> Control Center -> Customize Controls and then tap the “+” next to Hearing.

Why Is Live Listen Not Showing on My iPhone?

If you can’t see the Live Listen option on your iPhone or if Live Listen is not working with your AirPods, it might be because you haven’t connected a compatible set of headphones such as AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro, or Beats Fit Pro to your device. Also, make sure that you’ve added the Hearing control to your Control Center as described above.

Comparison: Live Listen vs. Transparency Mode

On the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, there is another feature called Transparency Mode, which also aids users in hearing their surroundings. At first glance, these two features may seem identical, but they have distinct differences.

Transparency Mode uses external microphones on the AirPods to let in ambient noise, while Live Listen uses the microphone on your iOS device. This allows Live Listen to capture specific sounds from short distances away, depending on the proximity of your iOS device to the audio source. Additionally, Transparency Mode delivers audio in stereo, while Live Listen delivers audio in mono.

Despite these differences, both features play critical roles in enhancing audio experiences for users.

Can people hear my AirPods?

In general, people can’t hear what you’re listening to through your AirPods unless the volume is extremely high. But remember, the Live Listen feature can potentially allow others to hear conversations or sounds picked up by your iPhone’s microphone.

Do people know when you use live listen?

There is no direct way for someone to know if you’re using Live Listen unless they can see your iPhone screen or you tell them. However, using this feature to invade someone’s privacy is against its intended purpose and can have serious legal implications.

Why can’t I use live listen with AirPods?

If you’re unable to use Live Listen with your AirPods, it could be because they aren’t connected properly or your device needs an update. Make sure that your AirPods are paired with your device and that your device is running the latest version of iOS.


Apple’s Live Listen feature, while having the potential for misuse, stands as a powerful tool for those with hearing impairments. By turning your AirPods or Beats into a pseudo hearing aid, Live Listen not only enhances social experiences but also provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional hearing aids.

However, it’s vital to remember the intended purpose of Live Listen and the legal implications of misuse. Live Listen is a tool designed to enhance communication, not to invade privacy.

Let’s all embrace and use Live Listen responsibly, maximizing its benefits while respecting the privacy of others.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with friends and family who might also benefit from using Live Listen. Remember, technology is a tool that, when used responsibly, can significantly improve our lives. Let’s use Live Listen as it was intended: to improve communication and help those with hearing impairments.

3 thoughts on “How To Turn On and Use Live Listen With Your AirPods or Beats

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.