Though it may seem an unlikely gift for seniors, Apple AirPods offer a little-known feature to amplify sound. The function – called Live Listen – can serve as a low-grade hearing aid. Taps & Sutton recently became aware of this feature when one of our clients used this feature during a meeting at our office.
The most recent version of AirPods – AirPods Pro – is currently listed at $249 on the Apple website. The earlier generation of AirPods is currently listed for sale at Best Buy for $159.99. Compare those prices to the price of a decent set of hearing aids and you’ll likely save thousands of dollars. Note that if you have significant hearing impairment, AirPods may not be an appropriate substitute for a doctor or audiologist’s assessment. (Note: If your professionally recommended hearing aids are a “Made for iPhone hearing device,” audio from your Apple device goes to the hearing device. See a list of Made for iPhone hearing devices here.) But, if you are looking for a simple hearing boost, the AirPods can be a cost-efficient substitute.
To use your AirPods as hearing aids, sync the AirPods to your iPhone or iPad using the Bluetooth connection. Once your Apple AirPods are synced to your device, go to your Settings menu. Next, access the Control Center and select “Customize Controls.” Select the green “+” icon next to the word “Hearing.”
After completing those steps, you can return to your home screen. Access your Control Center (swipe up on an iPhone 8 or older; swipe down from the top-right on an iPhone X or newer). Tap the ear icon and select the “Live Listen” option.
Once Live Listen is activated, your AirPods will amplify the sounds picked up by your iPhone or iPad microphone. It may help to place your device near the person or sound you want to amplify. You can even walk away from your iPhone or iPad and continue to listen, so long as your device and the AirPods maintain the Bluetooth connection.
If you are a senior struggling to complete your Christmas list or if you have a loved one who needs an extra hearing boost, asking Santa for a pair of Apple AirPods may be your answer.