Live Listen feature coming to AirPods in iOS 12

In iOS 12, AirPods are gaining the Live Listen feature found in hearing aids certified through Apple’s Made for iPhone hearing aid program. The feature, which is enabled in iPhone settings, turns an iOS device into a remote microphone, allowing you to hear a conversation in a noisy room.

Live Listen was first launched in 2014 to allow iPhone users with hearing aids to better listen to conversations. When paired with an iPhone, you can turn the feature on and off, adjust the volume, or set it as your preferred Accessibility Shortcut.

Last month, Apple celebrated Global Accessibility¬†Awareness Day, which is held on the third Thursday in May. The day promotes digital accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. As part of the celebration, Apple highlighted the company’s accessibility features in iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS.

The Apple Accessibility webpage at the time highlighted software features such as Zoom, Voice Over, Magnifier, Display Accommodations, Type to Siri, Switch Control, Live Listen, and more.

Apple’s decision to bring Live Listen to AirPods is an important one. It allows more people to enjoy the truly wireless headphones which launched in December 2016. A second-generation waterproof model could arrive this fall.

Priced at $159, AirPods were first announced in September 2016 alongside the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. Initially planned for release that October, AirPods finally launched in mid-December. They were available at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Resellers, and select carriers one week later. 

Apple announced iOS 12 earlier this week at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). As expected, iOS 12 focuses heavily on performance and speed enhancements, rather than new features, although there are a few of those too. These include updated versions of the Stocks and Photos apps, all-new Memojis, digital wellness tools, and much more.

At Monday’s event, Apple also announced updated versions of macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.