Apple’s AirPods Live Listening Feature Can Be Used for Spying

This is certainly not something Apple had in mind when they developed and marketed their AirPods earphones. While great in their wireless design, it’s been discovered that they, along with an iOS 12 feature, can also be used for spying on others’ conversations.

Eavesdropping Possibility

Sure, your AirPods allow you to hear your music and phone conversations and do their job well, but other people who own them could also be using theirs to spy on you with iOS 12’s Live Listen feature. If you see a stray iPhone lying around, be careful what you say.


Live Listen was at one time meant for hearing aids that were certified for the Made for iPhone hearing aid program, but now it allows an iPhone to be used as a microphone and the AirPods as hearing aids to help people hear in noisier situations.

It was then discovered thanks to a tweet that there was a nefarious purpose to the Live Listen feature with earphones. It turns the iPhone/AirPods combination into an eavesdropping device. If you activate the Live Listen feature, you can then leave your iPhone near the conversation you want to eavesdrop on and listen from another location with the AirPods.


This is bad news for Apple, a company that prides itself on the privacy of its users. You can expect them to be making changes to the Live Listen feature very soon.

Whether or not you even own AirPods, you need to be aware that others are. If a person leaves their phone behind, it doesn’t mean they’re spying on you, but you need to realize that they could be.

What should Apple do to fix this? Add your thoughts on the possibility of spying on conversations by using an iPhone, AirPods, and the Live Listen feature in the comments below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.