The world around us is full of beautiful sounds, most of which we don’t even notice. In today’s NextPit coffee break, I share some cool tricks to turn your phone or headphones into a hearing aid. This is how you activate your spider sense and hear when Doc Ock is crawling up the wall of your house!
Our phones have microphones that are pretty powerful. After all, my neighbors need to be able to hear me talking two rooms away and send me a few hours of personalized advertising. The microphones must therefore be powerful enough to pick up even the quietest noises.
I unintentionally strayed into the field of hearing aids – and ornithology – where such features have their original utility. This feature is well implemented in iOS 15 under the name “Live Listening”, while Android devices require a dedicated Google app called “Sound Amplifier”.
So you hear the world like Tom Holland in Spiderman Across the Spider-Verse
The concept is amazingly simple: by picking up the sounds from the microphones and amplifying them in your headphones, you can capture sounds that only Spiderman or any dog can otherwise hear. The uses for such a phenomenally simple “hack” are numerous, and some less benign than others.
You can use it as a substitute for the ambient sound reproduction that many headphones lack. Or as a hearing aid for emergencies, or to take a walk in nature and try to pick up the sounds you wouldn’t normally hear. Perhaps the flapping of a sparrow or the hissing of a stray fox. I was surprised how many new sounds I could discover without special equipment.
You can also use your new super hearing comfortably in everyday life. If you have trouble arguing in noisy environments, amplifying others’ voices while blocking out background noise can help you. But it’s not perfect: Often the sounds are muffled, as if you were underwater. Still, it’s a fun pastime for a few minutes.
Here’s how to activate your live listening on iOS
To use “Live Listening” on iOS, you need a compatible headset and a device with iOS 14.3 or higher. In addition to the special “Made for iPhone” hearing aids, you can also use AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro or Beats Fit Pro.
AirPods 3rd generation
Air Pods Pro with MagSafe charging case
With live listening, you can amplify the sounds of your surroundings and conversations while playing a white background noise like rain sounds. You can also see the current noise level of your headset so you don’t damage your ears.
- go to Settings > control center.
- Tap that green plus sign next to the hearing button.
- Tap to exit and save ideas.
This is how you amplify ambient noise on your Android device
Surprisingly, such a helpful feature is missing from Android’s accessibility settings. It’s a real shame given their usefulness for people with hearing problems. Therefore, we need to resort to a separate Google app for the trick to work. The app is called Sound Amplifier and you can download it for free from the Google Play Store.
With the app you can amplify all sounds that your microphone receives. At the same time, there is a fine-tuning slider to focus on specific frequencies. There is also a gain control to find the volume precisely and a noise reduction filter with three different levels.
Did you like this life hack as the latest issue of coffee break? Let me know in the comments!