Apple’s integration of hearing aid functionalities into their popular AirPods could help normalize hearing aids and reduce the stigma associated with hearing loss

Apple’s “Hearing Aid Mode”: A New Era in Hearing Care

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Industry News

Apple’s venture into the hearing care market has been the talk of the tech and health communities alike.  

While official announcements are still pending, speculation from credible sources suggests that Apple is gearing up to introduce “Hearing Aid Mode” in their upcoming iOS 18 update, slated for late 2024 or early 2025. 

Unpacking the Rumors: What We Know 

The anticipated “Hearing Aid Mode” is expected to be a key feature in iOS 18, potentially launching in September 2024. This feature aims to enhance Apple AirPods, enabling them to function as amplifiers in challenging listening environments. This development builds on Apple’s earlier audio features such as “Live Listen” (2019) and “Conversation Boost” (2021). 

In addition, Apple is rumored to be preparing for the release of the 3rd generation AirPods Pro in early 2025. These new AirPods are likely to maximize the benefits of the “Hearing Aid Mode” feature, offering users enhanced audio capabilities. 

The Motivation Behind Apple’s Move 

The aging Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) is a significant factor in Apple’s strategic move. By 2025, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to soar from 19 million to 70 million.  

A 2023 study revealed that 23 percent of Baby Boomers use iPhones, equating to about 16.1 million potential beneficiaries of this new feature. This move not only caters to an aging population but also positions Apple to capture a larger share of the earphone market. 

Anticipated Features of “Hearing Aid Mode” 

Currently, various apps can turn AirPods into sound amplifiers by enhancing the sounds picked up by the device’s microphones. “Hearing Aid Mode,” along with the new AirPods Pro 3, is expected to offer more sophisticated capabilities. 

While specifics are speculative, the new mode might include features for self-assessing hearing and enhancing audio in difficult listening situations. These advancements could make the AirPods Pro 3 a powerful tool for those with mild hearing difficulties. 

Implications for the Hearing Care Industry 

The FDA’s approval of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in August 2022 marked a significant shift in the hearing care landscape. Companies like Jabra and Sony quickly entered the market with their OTC devices, which received mixed reactions.  

Many users found that these devices did not meet their expectations, leading them to seek professional, prescription-based solutions. 

Apple’s approach appears to be different. Rather than introducing a standalone hearing aid, they are integrating “Hearing Aid Mode” into their already popular AirPods. This strategy could potentially reduce the confusion seen with previous OTC hearing aids and provide a seamless experience for users. 

Addressing Potential Concerns 

One of the primary concerns is that the introduction of “Hearing Aid Mode” could lead to confusion. Media coverage may cause some to believe that these enhanced AirPods are equivalent to professional hearing aids. 

This misconception might result in users experiencing unsatisfactory results and potentially delaying professional hearing care. 

The Positive Impact 

Despite potential concerns, Apple’s move could significantly reduce the stigma associated with hearing loss. By integrating hearing aid functionalities into trendy, high-tech devices, Apple may help normalize hearing aids and make them more acceptable to a broader audience. 

This development could serve as a catalyst for many individuals to address their hearing issues. The association of hearing devices with a leading technology brand like Apple might encourage more people to take their hearing health seriously. 

Staying Informed 

Ascent Audiology is closely monitoring these developments and we will continue to keep you updated through our blog. If you’re interested in the latest news and updates on hearing care technology, be sure to stay tuned. 

If you have any questions or need assistance with your hearing needs, feel free to request a callback or visit our contact page 

We are here to help you navigate the evolving landscape of hearing care. 

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Daniel Hewson

Born and raised in Western New York, Dan Hewson comes to our practice with over 19 years of experience in the field. With a master’s degree in audiology from SUNY Fredonia, Mr. Hewson has extensive experience working in several of the largest Otolaryngology practices in the country, and also as a Regional Manager with Siemens Medical Audiology Division. Father, husband, and full-time employee with us, Dan is currently a student working to earn his doctorate in audiology; it should be completed by 2018.

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