AirPods are great fully wireless earphones, and they can also be used as a sort of hearing aid device with iPhone as a remote microphone. Follow along for how to improve hearing by turning iPhone and AirPods into remote microphones with the iOS Live Listen feature.

Live Listen support for AirPods came with iOS 12 and even users on the beta software noted how useful the feature is.

Nick Dawson, founder of the Sibley Innovation Hub at Johns Hopkins University, documented his mother’s use of Live Listen on Twitter.

First, she used AirPods while watching a movie. Dawson says the film was at normal volume and he placed an iPhone near the TV speakers while his mother wore AirPods so she could watch and listen with them.

Other valuable use cases can be at the dinner table, or environments with higher levels of ambient noise.

How to improve hearing by turning iPhone and AirPods into remote microphones

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad
  2. Swipe down and tap Control Center, then Customize Control Center
  3. Now swipe down and tap the + next to Hearing, tap Back and exit Settings
  4. Open Control Center (swipe down from top right corner on iPhone X and later, swipe up from the bottom of your screen on iPhone 8/8 Plus and earlier
  5. Tap the ear icon
  6. Tap Live Listen to turn it on

Here’s how the process looks:

iPhone AirPods remote microphones

Now open Control Center and tap Live Listen to to turn it on. Place your iPhone closer to the audio source you’d like to hear better.

iPhone AirPods remote microphones

If you have trouble, turning on the feature like this:

iPhone AirPods remote microphones

Double check that AirPods are connected in Settings → Bluetooth. It may also help to play audio on AirPods first, then try to turn on Live Listen.

For more details on using Live Listen on iOS, check out Apple’s support document here.

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide as well as the following articles:

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About the Author

Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.