It has the potential to bring hearing loss into everyday conversation and certainly helps highlight the supportive technology available to those who need it

Apple’s ‘Hearing Aid Mode’: A New Era for Hearing Technology?

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Industry News

As we stand on the cusp of technological advancements in hearing care, rumors are swirling that Apple plans to introduce a “Hearing Aid Mode” in their upcoming iOS 18 update.  

We are excited about the potential this holds for the future of hearing technology and the broader implications for our patients and the hearing care community. 

What We Know So Far 

While Apple has not officially announced this feature, speculation from reputable sources suggests that Hearing Aid Mode will be part of iOS 18, expected to launch in September 2024.  

This feature will likely enhance Apple AirPods, transforming them into more sophisticated sound amplifiers, much like Apple’s previous features Live Listen and Conversation Boost. 

Additionally, rumors suggest that the 3rd generation AirPods Pro, slated for release in early 2025, will maximize the benefits of the new Hearing Aid Mode. 

Why Would Apple Introduce This Feature? 

The aging baby boomer population is a significant factor in Apple’s strategic decision. By 2025, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is expected to soar, creating a large potential market for hearing enhancement technologies.  

With many baby boomers being iPhone users, Apple’s new feature could address the growing demand for accessible hearing solutions. 

This move is not just about capturing a market share but also about normalizing the use of hearing aids and making hearing enhancement a routine part of tech-savvy lifestyles. 

What Will Hearing Aid Mode Be Like? 

Currently, various apps enable AirPods to function as basic sound amplifiers. However, Apple’s Hearing Aid Mode is expected to be far more advanced.  

It may include features such as self-hearing assessments and customizable settings to improve audio clarity in different environments. While we await the official details, the speculation suggests a significant leap in functionality. 

The Impact on Hearing Care 

The introduction of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in August 2022 marked a significant shift in the hearing care industry. Brands like Jabra and Sony quickly entered the market, though the results were mixed. Many users found that OTC devices did not meet their expectations, prompting them to seek professional solutions. 

Apple’s approach with Hearing Aid Mode differs by integrating the feature into their popular AirPods rather than launching a separate device. This strategy could reduce confusion and streamline user experience. 

Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions 

One of the primary concerns with Apple’s new feature is potential confusion among users. Media coverage may lead some to believe that these enhanced AirPods are equivalent to professional hearing aids. However, it’s important to understand that while AirPods can assist with hearing, they lack the sophisticated features of medical-grade hearing aids, such as noise reduction, directional microphones, and feedback cancellation. 

The Positive Outlook 

Despite potential concerns, Apple’s move could significantly impact the perception of hearing aids. By associating hearing devices with a leading tech brand, the stigma around hearing loss may diminish, encouraging more people to address their hearing issues. 

It has the potential to bring hearing loss into everyday conversation and certainly helps highlight the supportive technology available to those who need it.

This development could be a major step toward normalizing the use of hearing aids and making them more acceptable to a broader audience. 

What’s Next? 

We are committed to keeping our patients informed about the latest developments in hearing care technology. As we continue to monitor this news, we will provide updates and insights through our blog. 

If you have any questions or need assistance with your hearing needs, feel free to request a callback or call us at 972-943-0466. 

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Celia McCormick

Dr. McCormick has lived in Plano since 1988. She is a graduate of Texas Christian University and completed her Doctorate of Audiology at the University of Texas at Dallas. Soon after, she opened a private practice in Plano and now enjoys serving the community that has been her home for the past three decades.