In iOS 12 Apple has updated its innovative Live Listen feature to work with AirPods. Since 2014, people with hearing issues could enable Live Listen to work with their hearing aids, turning the iPhone into a microphone that sends audio to the listener. Now this useful capability can be employed with Apple's wireless earbuds.

In this article we show how to set up Live Listen and get it working with your AirPods and iPhone.

What does Live Listen actually do?

When the feature is enabled, it turns your iPhone into a directional microphone that feeds audio directly to your AirPods or Made For iPhone-compatible hearing aids.

The purpose of this is to make it easier to hear people and conversations in a busy environment. By pointing your iPhone at the person speaking you should be able to separate their words from the background din that would otherwise obscure them.

How do I enable Live Listen?

First of all, you need to make sure you've updated to iOS 12 if you want to use your AirPods. If you're unsure whether your device is compatible with the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, read Which iPhones & iPads can get iOS 12?

If it's on the list (and most devices from the past few years are) then you can follow our How to get iOS 12 on iPhone or iPad tutorial to move up to the new version.

With iOS 12 now ensconced on your iPhone it's time to head to Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls.

How to use Live Listen in iOS 12

In here you'll see a number of tools that currently appear in Control Centre when you swipe up from the bottom of the display (or swipe down from the top right if you have a non-Home button iPhone).

Scroll down through the list entitled More Controls until you find one called Hearing. Tap the Add icon to the left of the name (it looks like a + inside a green circle) and it should move up to the top list of shortcuts on Control Centre. To finish, tap Back.

How to use Live Listen in iOS 12

How do I use Live Listen?

Now, whenever you want to activate the service, open the Control Centre, tap on the Hearing icon, select Live Listen, and audio should start streaming to your AirPods or Made For iPhone hearing aids.

If this not be the case, ensure that Bluetooth is turned on, your AirPods are charged, and the volume is turned up on your iPhone.

To turn off Live Listen, simply open Control Centre, tap Hearing, and deselect Live Listen.

For more on how to get the most out of your Apple smartphone, read our iPhone tips & tricks guide.