12 Jan 2019: iPhones can be used for spying on people: Here's how
Sometimes features introduced for something good can be exploited in unimaginable ways, leading to serious privacy concerns.
We've seen people freaking out over camera-equipped smart displays, and now, something similar is happening with Apple, thanks to a new iOS 12 feature called 'Live Listen'.
It has been designed to help people with hearing problems, but can easily be repurposed for spying.
Feature details: What is Live Listen?
Live Listen is a tool to help hearing-impaired understand what somebody is saying, especially in a crowded space.
It uses the microphone of iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to capture and transmit sounds to AirPods, effectively turning the buds into hearing aids.
"Live Listen can help you hear a conversation in a noisy area or even hear someone speaking across the room," Apple claims.
Concern: But, Live Listen can also be used for spying
Worryingly, the accessibility feature can even be used for spying or eavesdropping on conversations, Twitter users have revealed.
One can leave their iOS device in a room with two people talking and hear what they're saying by using the AirPods.
As long as Live Listen stays on and the device rests in the targeted room, the whole conversation would be transmitted to the outsider.
Fact: Here's what one said of the feature
Issues: Now, this raises serious privacy concerns
We know Apple developed this feature with good intentions, but its second use raises some serious privacy concerns.
People, not to mention teens, can easily use the capability to learn about things they should not know or stuff that has been specifically kept from them.
Even stalkers/thieves can use something like this to dive into the lives, routines of their targets.
Fact: Live Listen only works when AirPods are on
Originally, Live Listen only worked with made-for-iPhone hearing aids. But, now, as and when AirPods are turned on, the connected iPhone/iPad shows an ear-shaped icon to use the feature. It even allows for adjusting sensitivity and pick up more or less sound.
Apple's comment: Apple has not commented on the matter
So far, Apple has commented on the possible ill-use of its Live Listen feature.
However, some users are raising alarms over the issue and noting that the feature could create problems for the company.
Hopefully, the Cupertino-giant will take note of the matter and push an update fixing the issue or maybe reducing its range so that audio doesn't go out of a room.