How to turn on Apple's 'Live Listen' feature to use your AirPods as a baby monitor or make them hearing-aid-friendly

How to turn on Apple's 'Live Listen' feature to use your AirPods as a baby monitor or make them hearing-aid-friendly

apple airpods in ear

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Through Live Listen, you can use your AirPods as a baby monitor or make them hearing aid-accessible.

  • Apple released its Live Listen feature in 2014 to allow iOS devices to act as a microphone for people using MFI-compatible hearing aids.
  • You can now use Live Listen with your AirPods, if you have iOS 12 or later on your iPhone or iPad.
  • As well as assisting people with hearing aids, Live Listen can allow your iOS device and AirPods to be used as a mobile baby monitor.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In 2014, Apple launched Live Listen, a feature that allows your iOS device (iPhone or iPad) to act as a remote microphone to help hearing-impaired individuals using MFI-compatible hearing aids hear.

A few years later, in September 2018, they furthered the technology by enabling AirPods to use the software to act as a substitute hearing aid. But hearing impaired or not, you can use your iOS device as a directional microphone and listen to the audio through your AirPods (or even one AirPod on its own).

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Although the feature was originally developed to help those who are hearing impaired, it can also be used to help separate voices from intense background noise or as a makeshift baby monitor.

It's a perfect portable monitor for parents on vacation. Simply place your iPhone or iPad near the baby's crib and point the bottom end in the baby's direction. Now, wear a single AirPod and you'll be able to listen in on your precious little one from any room in the house.


Ready to give it a try? Read on to start the simple setup.

How to set up Live Listen on your iOS device

Now that you know a little bit about Live Listen, you can follow the steps below to enable the feature on your iOS device by adding it to your "Control Center." Here's how it works:

1. On the iOS device you want to use as the microphone (iPhone or iPad), open the "Settings" app (it looks like a grey gear).

2. Scroll down and click on "Control Center."

3. Open "Customize Controls."


4. Scroll down to the "Other Controls" section and click the green "+" button next to the "Hearing" option. It will now appear in the "Include" section. You can change the display order by tapping the option on the three horizontal lines and dragging it into place.


Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

Add "Hearing" to the "Include" section of your Control Center.

How to use Live Listen on your iOS device with AirPods

Now that you have the feature enabled on your iPhone or iPad, you can start using Live Listen with your AirPods:

1. Put on your AirPods and make sure they're connected to your iOS device. If you prefer, you can just wear one AirPod.

2. Launch your "Control Center." Depending on what device you have this can be achieved by following one of these methods:

  • On an iPad with a home button or an iPhone 8 or older: swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
  • On a new iPad Pro (with no home button), or an iPhone R/X/XS/XS Max: swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen.

3. Tap the "Hearing" button - it looks like an ear with a hearing aid.


Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

Turn on Live Listen by tapping the Hearing icon in your Control Center.

4. Under "Live Listen" it will say "Off." Tap there to turn it "On."

5. Place your paired iPhone or iPad near the person you want to hear. If possible, it's best to place it directly in front of them, with the bottom of the device (where the charging port is) pointed at them.


Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

Your iOS device should connect to your AirPods automatically.


6. Use your iOS device volume buttons to control the audio level.

If you see the message "Unavailable for current route," restart your iOS device and select "forget this device," then reconnect your AirPods in the Bluetooth menu. If you still get this message, make sure that your AirPods aren't connected to multiple devices. You'll also see this message if you try to use Live Listen with any headphones other than AirPods.


Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

If your iOS device displays an "Unavailable for current route" message, you may need to restart your device.