Skip to Content
© Chiradech Chotchuang | and

Creepy AirPods setting can let you listen in on someone’s private conversation

Spy technology is so advanced now that it can be squeezed into almost anything. But would-be secret agents don’t need to go to the backstreet tech dealer to get what they need. They just need an iPhone and a pair of AirPods.

While similar earbuds are available in the market at cheaper prices, AirPods are stacked with features you might not know about. Tap or click here to learn AirPods tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

One of those features is Live Listen mode. While it was designed to help those with hearing problems, it can be also used to spy on your conversations.

How Live Listen works

Primarily intended to assist hard of hearing consumers, Live Listen allows your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to act like a microphone.

Apple explains that Live Listen can help you hear a conversation in a noisy area, as an example. With your AirPods in your ears and your iPhone near the person you’re trying to hear, it will transmit the closest audio to your AirPods.

Pretty nifty, but the technology can also be used by other people to listen in on your conversations. The only thing they have to do is place an iPhone close enough to you, activate Live Listen and eavesdrop on what is being said — even from another room.

Related: AirPods problems? Apple offering free replacements for faulty earbuds

How to set up Live Listen

Again, Live Listen is meant for use by people who have problems hearing, and you can set it up if you have a pair of AirPods or Powerbeats Pro wireless earbuds paired with your device.

You would first need to add the mode to the Control Center of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. To do this:

  • Go to Settings, and then tap on Control Center
  • Tap on Customize Controls
  • Scroll down until you get to Hearing, and tap on the green + sign
  • Tap on the back button to save the settings

To use Live Listen, you then need to:

  • Open the Control Center
  • Tap the ear icon
  • Tap the Live Listen icon
  • Place your device in front of the audio source that you want to hear

When everything is set up correctly, you will be able to see the headphone audio levels as the conversation is happening.

The range of AirPods combined with Live Listen is still being debated, but the most common consensus is a range of about 50 feet. At closer distances, it is possible to listen to conversations through walls, but the quality might depreciate depending on the wall’s material.

Related: You won’t believe how much Apple’s new over-the-ear headphones cost

Apple hasn’t to date addressed the issue of Live Listen possibly being used to spy on conversations. The reason for this could be two-fold: they don’t want to draw attention to an unintended use for one of its features; and Apple has been very vocal about user privacy, and could view this as a possible breach.

That doesn’t mean that you need to report every unattended iPhone to the local authorities. There are legitimate uses for Live Listen, but as with all technology today, it is better to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

There are no audible tones that could indicate the use of the feature, and that might be something for Apple to look into.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community

Get even more know-how in the Komando Community! Here, you can enjoy The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, ask your tech questions in the Forum — and so much more.

Try it for 30 days