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A feature designed to assist the hearing impaired using Apple’s popular AirPods is inadvertently helping people eavesdrop on conversations.
The Live Listen feature, which became available on Apple’s latest operating system, allows people to turn their iPhone into a microphone and can be used to spy on people from a distance.
Originally designed to help people with hearing disabilities by amplifying sounds with the use of an iPhone and a pair of AirPods, by simply placing the smartphone close to the person speaking, the iPhone captures sound and allows the user to modify the volume to suit their hearing needs.
However, people quickly found out that this ingenious tool designed to help people hear could be used for other purposes as well, and quickly gained traction of social media.
Users realized that if one were to leave their device with the Live Listen feature turned on in a different room, it would perfectly transmit the sound straight to their wireless headphones as if one were standing next to the person speaking. According to some users, the feature works from up to 15m away.
In addition, taking eavesdropping to super spy levels, users also discovered that they could access the feature from an iPad or Apple Watch. By leaving either device say on a desk or table, users could drop in on any conversation without drawing any attention.
While many people on social media found the feature a bit creepy and mostly agreed that it’s unacceptable to abuse the feature to spy on people, it did not stop others from reacting with humor rather than concern. Many users seemed excited at the possibility of eavesdropping on coworkers, friends and even family.