World Backup Day Deals Best Cloud Storage Options Apple AR/VR Headset Uncertainty Samsung Galaxy A54 Preorders iOS 16.4: What's New 10 Best Foods for PCOS 25 Easter Basket Ideas COVID Reinfection: What to Know
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

With iOS 12 and AirPods, you can turn your iPhone into a remote mic

Apple's wireless earbuds are getting a feature previously found only in Made for iPhone hearing aids.

With iOS 12, Apple's AirPods will now work with a feature that turns an iPhone into a directional mic. 
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

Apple's AirPods are about to get a feature that helps you hear better. 

The next version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 12, will include the capability to turn your iPhone into a directional microphone. The feature, called Live Listen, has been offered in Made for iPhone hearing aids for years and has let people with hearing problems better pick up conversations being held around them. 

Now playing: Watch this: Highlights from Apple's WWDC 2018 keynote

With Live Listen, your iPhone works as a remote microphone to home in on sound in noisy environments. You can place your iPhone at the other end of a conference table or the other side of a crowded room and then pipe the sound directly to your ears. Some hearing aid companies, like Starkey, even enable the microphone feature to record conversations.

Apple didn't provide more details about the feature, which will launch with iOS 12 later this year. The software is currently available in beta for developers. A public beta will launch in the coming weeks, followed by a full release this fall with the next crop of iPhones.

Apple's move to make Live Listen work with AirPods is the latest push by a tech giant into augmented hearing. Many companies are releasing so-called hearables -- wearables for your ears -- that do more than stream music. Some pack in smarts to give you directions or share information about something you're facing, while others integrate features to make them more accessible for people dealing with hearing loss. 

It's a large crowd. Roughly 48 million Americans, or a fifth of the country, deal with some degree of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. It's not just age-related hearing loss; it affects 15 percent of school-age children as well. 

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility.

Blockchain Decoded: CNET looks at the tech powering bitcoin -- and soon, too, a myriad of services that will change your life.