Published On: March 11, 2024

Apple to Introduce 'Hearing Aid Mode' for AirPods Pro with iOS 18

Published On: March 11, 2024
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Apple to Introduce 'Hearing Aid Mode' for AirPods Pro with iOS 18

In a move to enhance accessibility and address hearing health needs, Apple is poised to unveil a new 'hearing aid mode' for AirPods Pro users through the iOS 18 software update.

Apple to Introduce 'Hearing Aid Mode' for AirPods Pro with iOS 18

By Author: Nemanja Grbic
With over 9 years of experience in journalism, Nemanja Grbic is a reputable news press release writer and journalist in the home theater industry. His sharp journalistic acumen delivers accurate and engaging news, featured in prominent AV publications.

Apple is set to introduce a significant new feature for its AirPods Pro users with the upcoming release of iOS 18, according to reports from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The anticipated feature, known as "hearing aid mode," aims to enhance accessibility and hearing health for users of the popular wireless earbuds.

Key Takeaways:

  • Apple is reportedly introducing a "hearing aid mode" for AirPods Pro with the upcoming iOS 18 update.
  • The new feature aims to enhance hearing accessibility and support users with hearing impairments.
  • It builds upon existing functionalities like Live Listen and Conversation Boost, potentially rivaling dedicated hearing aid devices.
  • Regulatory considerations may arise regarding the distinction between hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) under FDA guidelines.
  • The introduction of this mode aligns with broader trends in the hearing aid industry, following FDA's guidelines allowing over-the-counter sales of hearing aids.
  • While specific details about the mode remain unclear, Apple typically unveils major software updates like iOS 18 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, with a public rollout expected alongside new hardware releases in the fall.

While the AirPods lineup already boasts various features related to hearing health and accessibility, including Live Listen and Conversation Boost, this new mode is expected to take it a step further. Live Listen, introduced with iOS 12 in 2018, essentially turns an iPhone into a directional microphone, transmitting audio to AirPods in real time. Conversation Boost, added in 2021, enhances microphone pickup to improve hearing in face-to-face conversations.

The introduction of a dedicated hearing aid mode shows Apple's commitment to addressing hearing impairments and accessibility needs among its user base. This move aligns with broader industry trends and regulatory changes, including the FDA's establishment of new guidelines in 2022 allowing over-the-counter sales of certain hearing aids.

Despite initial rumors suggesting the feature might be exclusive to a next-generation model of AirPods Pro, it appears that the functionality will be delivered through a software update, rather than hardware changes. This approach signifies Apple's ongoing efforts to leverage software innovations to enhance the capabilities of existing products.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Wireless Ear Buds with USB-C Charging.

Details regarding the specifics of the new hearing aid mode remain scarce, but it's expected to offer an advanced solution for users with hearing challenges. Apple's integration of traditional hearing aid features with its AirPods technology could potentially disrupt the hearing aid market, which has historically been characterized by high costs and regulatory barriers.

The introduction of a hearing aid mode could have significant implications not only for AirPods users but also for the broader accessibility landscape. By providing accessible solutions through mainstream consumer devices, Apple aims to empower individuals with diverse needs to fully participate in daily activities and communication.

The upcoming iOS 18 update, set to be previewed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, is anticipated to bring this new feature to AirPods Pro users. With the release expected alongside the iPhone 16 series in the fall, users can look forward to experiencing the enhanced accessibility and functionality offered by the hearing aid mode.

The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation are available for purchase at Amazon, at the discounted price of $189.99 (original price: $249.00). Stay tuned for further updates and details as Apple prepares to unveil iOS 18 and the anticipated hearing aid mode for AirPods Pro users.

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