Apple brings Live Listen accessibility feature to AirPods in iOS 12

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 6
Apple intends to deliver its Live Listen accessibility function, currently used to stream live audio from iPhone's microphone to compatible hearing aids, to AirPods wireless headphones with the launch of iOS 12 later this year.

AirPods


Debuted in 2016 as part of Apple's Made for iPhone program, Live Listen is a Bluetooth-based solution that grants supported hearing aids streaming access to an iPhone's microphone. With Live Listen, users can place their iPhone near a subject or sound source to home in on target audio, boosting fidelity in noisy environments.

With iOS 12, Apple is bringing the assistive hearing technology to its AirPods product.

Enabled in iPhone settings under Accessibility, Live Listen for AirPods functions in much the same way as it does for hearing aids, with iPhone acting as a directional microphone for audio pickup and transmission. An assortment of audio filtering resets allow users to tune their listening experience, from a busy restaurant to the outdoors.

For example, users at a busy restaurant can set their iPhone down on the table, select "Restaurant" from the preset menu and stream relatively noise-free audio directly to their AirPods. Alternatively, an iPhone might be placed in front of a television set across the room, allowing those with hearing difficulties to listen in on their favorite shows at normal volumes.

In yet another example provided by Apple, users can hand their iPhone to another person to better hear what they are saying.

AirPods is not expected to replace dedicated hearing aid equipment, but the ability to enhance audio fidelity while cutting down on ambient noise is a boon for users with hearing impairments.



sarahtailorMisterKit

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,147member
    I wonder what effect this feature has on battery life.
    sarahtailor
  • Reply 2 of 19
    anomeanome Posts: 1,094member
    I have a lot of trouble filtering out background noise, so this could be quite useful for me, if it isn’t awkward to put my iPhone where it can pick up what people are saying.

    Of course, it may be I actually need hearing aids.
    sarahtailorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    ivanhivanh Posts: 195member
    Live listening seems to be a replacement of the FM device which streams the teacher’s voice to the student’s hearing aid. But the Apple EarPods is not meant to replace the hearing aid.

    Those people who have hearing loss at severe / moderate levels will be reluctant to use Apple EarPods. A perfect way now available is to use Bluetooth bone conduction earphones (eg AfterShokz) and hearing aids on one/both ears and leave the ear canals open.  I don’t see using any in-ear earphone (s.a. Apple EarPods) works better.

    sarahtailor
  • Reply 4 of 19
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,193member
    I suggested this to Apple a while back on the feedback page. I have no illusions that they heard me, but perhaps there were many others who spoke up. I am in that narrow band between needing some help in certain situations, and not needing a full time hearing aid. Loud restaurants are the best use case for me. Can’t wait for iOS 12 so I can make use of this feature! Thanks, Apple.
    sarahtailorjony0watto_cobrastardustag
  • Reply 5 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,402member
    I suggested this to Apple a while back on the feedback page. I have no illusions that they heard me, but perhaps there were many others who spoke up. I am in that narrow band between needing some help in certain situations, and not needing a full time hearing aid. Loud restaurants are the best use case for me. Can’t wait for iOS 12 so I can make use of this feature! Thanks, Apple.
    Sorry, but Ivanh said he doesn’t see how using these could be better so you’re out of luck. Another total failure by those amateurs at Apple... rolleyes 
    sarahtailorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 890member
    Next shared live listening.
    Let a speaker at a small event (without a hearing loop) activate the microphone on their iPhone and share that with other airpods and hearing aids in the room.
    claire1sarahtailorllamajony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    claire1claire1 Posts: 353unconfirmed, member
    Apple always thinking ahead.
    sarahtailorMisterKitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 106member
    Hearing aids are one of the biggest rip offs going. Thousands of dollars per ear. If Apple could get in and perfect this market for a few hundred per ear it would be one of the biggest public services of our time.
    claire1sandorrobin huberkruegdudellamajony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    anomeanome Posts: 1,094member
    ivanh said:
    Live listening seems to be a replacement of the FM device which streams the teacher’s voice to the student’s hearing aid. But the Apple EarPods is not meant to replace the hearing aid.

    Those people who have hearing loss at severe / moderate levels will be reluctant to use Apple EarPods. A perfect way now available is to use Bluetooth bone conduction earphones (eg AfterShokz) and hearing aids on one/both ears and leave the ear canals open.  I don’t see using any in-ear earphone (s.a. Apple EarPods) works better.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting AirPods as a suitable replacement for hearing aids. I said they might help me in situations where I find it hard to discern conversation, and I believe that is the kind of use they're pitching this at. If you have severe hearing problems, then you should probably get actual hearing aids and not bluetooth headphones.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,755member
    This is a giant boost for the Aspergian geniuses working in Silicon Valley because many autistics have trouble filtering out and processing  multiple sounds -- such as demonstrated in the restaurant.

    But, at the same time, a blow to multi-billion dollar hearing aid industry where for decades the industry has enjoyed government protection that prohibited any but a physician to prescribe a hearing aid that was made by a medical device company at probably 10-100 times the cost of an equivalent device.  (Yeh, some will still need an actual hearing aid, but many/most will be happy with this at a very small fraction of the cost.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrastardustag
  • Reply 11 of 19
    igerardigerard Posts: 9member
    Very interesting, but this thing would need an equalizer, I have earing issue, and I am equiped with intra (very very expensive : 4300 €)... but during conf call... AirPods are better, and an equalizer would make this thing a lot better

    I filled some time ago this suggestion to Apple also :)
    edited June 6 llamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    sandorsandor Posts: 463member
    will it work (or does it in the iOS 12 beta) with other headphones? and also external microphones?

    We have been working on a hacked solution for a co-worker who has issues hearing speakers in the auditorium & classrooms at work. Their hearing aids do not help at all, so we has been working with directional mics & 3rd party apps with full EQs + headphones with lightening powered pre-amps.
    edited June 6
  • Reply 13 of 19
    chronartchronart Posts: 17member
     is sure into only taking little steps. I have two Bluetooth ear amplifiers from Soundworld Solutions. They are not MiFi, just Bluetooth so they are great for telephone calls, podcasts, music when I am walking or hiking. And they have an App to Customize for my hearing. But sometimes I prefer to have my Airpods on for all the same uses. But they block my ability to hear anyone talking. Why  doesn’t allow the AirPod microphones to help is stupid. They need to merge these two needs.
    mac_128
  • Reply 14 of 19
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,147member
    mattinoz said:
    Next shared live listening.
    Let a speaker at a small event (without a hearing loop) activate the microphone on their iPhone and share that with other airpods and hearing aids in the room.
    How about just letting two people share the same source over one device by pairing to sets of AirPods to it first. Right now they can’t even do that. If you want to share audio with someone now, the only way to do it is in mono. And if you’re trying to share with more than one person, somebody won’t get to share, even in mono.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 147member
    MisterKit said:
    Hearing aids are one of the biggest rip offs going. Thousands of dollars per ear. If Apple could get in and perfect this market for a few hundred per ear it would be one of the biggest public services of our time.
    I have to agree with you on this one. I’ve spent $1000’s and they’ve always failed to help in any meaningful way. I have pretty severe loss and yet I find the AirPods to be extremely usable for music, podcasts and now hopefully conversations. 
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 147member
    This is a giant boost for the Aspergian geniuses working in Silicon Valley because many autistics have trouble filtering out and processing  multiple sounds -- such as demonstrated in the restaurant.

    But, at the same time, a blow to multi-billion dollar hearing aid industry where for decades the industry has enjoyed government protection that prohibited any but a physician to prescribe a hearing aid that was made by a medical device company at probably 10-100 times the cost of an equivalent device.  (Yeh, some will still need an actual hearing aid, but many/most will be happy with this at a very small fraction of the cost.
    It’s 100% markup of the cost to the audiologist. I’m not sure but looking at the size and components I’m guessing there’s at least a 1000% markup on the component costs. In other words these patent protected, government subsidized devices are costing the mostly elderly millions of dollars a year at $2000-7000 a pair. And they will tell you to come back in 5-10 years to get a new pair. I’m convinced this is a scam. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 147member
    ivanh said:
    Live listening seems to be a replacement of the FM device which streams the teacher’s voice to the student’s hearing aid. But the Apple EarPods is not meant to replace the hearing aid.

    Those people who have hearing loss at severe / moderate levels will be reluctant to use Apple EarPods. A perfect way now available is to use Bluetooth bone conduction earphones (eg AfterShokz) and hearing aids on one/both ears and leave the ear canals open.  I don’t see using any in-ear earphone (s.a. Apple EarPods) works better.

    You are wrong to think this won’t help people with hearing losses and they can very well replace hearing aids in many cases at 1/10th the cost and potentially provide a platform towards a much more flexible alternative. 
    jony0
  • Reply 18 of 19
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 147member
    One thing that would be absolutely wonderful would be the ability to go back a minute or two to replay what was said. Unfortunately that would probably violate the recording laws of many states. 
    edited June 6
  • Reply 19 of 19
    My AirPods kept falling out of my ears (too big a gap between the tragus and anti tragus, and hair on the interior surface of the tragus) so I bought BeatsX. 

    Beats x have the W1 chip if the AirPods but are treated like the poor relation in that they lack the find my BeatsX feature and now seems no live listen. 

    Really sucks. BeatsX cost nearly as much as AirPods and Apple starve them of features (like a 2nd microphone and infrared sensors.). I’d have been willing to pay the full AirPod price for the BeatsX for these features. 
    edited June 15
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