Apple Plans to Introduce “Hearing Aid Mode” in Their Next iOS 18 Update | What Does This Mean?

by | May 21, 2024 | Hearing Aids, News, Technology

All in all, awareness is good but AirPods are not a long term solution for hearing challenges.

Although nothing is official at the point of publishing this article, it appears that, based on speculation from a number of reputable forums and news outlets, technology giant Apple is planning to enter the hearing care market in late 2024/early 2025. 

Here’s What We Know Up to Now 

Rumors suggest that iOS 18 will include a new feature called “Hearing Aid Mode.” Set to be released as part of the next iOS update in (predicted) September 2024, this new update will be focused on enabling Apple AirPods users to use their earphones as amplifiers to better support them in challenging listening situations. 

This new feature will sit alongside their previously launched “Live Listen(2019) and “Conversation Boost(2021) features. 

As of now, nothing is confirmed, but Apple has scheduled a Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10 where they are expected to release details of their iOS 18 software. 

To accompany this, Apple is also rumored to be releasing their 3rd generation AirPods Pro in early 2025, which are believed to be the hardware that will allow users to gain optimal benefits from the “Hearing Aid Mode” feature. 

Why Would Apple Introduce This Feature? 

In the next five years, the US will see the number of 65+-year-olds triple from an estimated 19 million people to an unprecedented 70 million people due to the Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) reaching retirement age. 

With a study in late 2023 suggesting that 23 percent of Baby Boomers are iPhone users, that means 16,100,000 Americans could benefit from this feature, and Apple could take market share from Android, which has a 55 percent hold on this demographic. 

This appears to be a strategic move to capture more customers and create a point of difference in the earphone market that they already dominate. 

What Will “Hearing Aid Mode” Be Like? 

As it stands, there are a number of ways that you can utilize apps to use your AirPods as sound amplifiers, often taking the sounds they can hear from your microphones and amplifying them into your ears. 

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iPhone users

The “Hearing Aid Mode” matched with the new Apple AirPods Pro 3 will likely be more sophisticated. Based on speculation, Apple may introduce features to allow you to self-assess your hearing and utilize features to help in difficult listening environments, although it’s purely speculation at this stage. 

We’ll be watching Apple’s June 10 conference to learn more and share any updates on this blog for you. 

What Impact Will This Have on Hearing Care? 

Before we look forward, let’s look backwards. 

When the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in August 2022, there were a lot of questions about what this would mean for the hearing care industry and the hearing health of individuals. 

Leading tech brands such as Jabra and Sony quickly launched their OTC devices into the market in October 2022, and the response was mixed. The media picked up the story and caused a lot of confusion by declaring that “affordable hearing aids had arrived,” and many individuals purchased them.  

What soon followed was many people realizing that these devices did not deliver on their needs/expectations, and in many cases, this served as a catalyst to seeking a full-time prescription solution. 

Unlike the previously launched OTC devices, Apple seems to be taking a different approach and building “Hearing Aid Mode” functionality into their already best-selling AirPods, rather than launching a new sole-purpose-focused product. 

The One Big Concern 

As was experienced when over-the-counter hearing aids first reached the market in 2022, the downside is that it causes a lot of confusion. 

Between advertising messages and media headlines, many people could be led to believe that Apple AirPods and “Hearing Aid Mode” will be just as powerful as standard prescription hearing technology. 

This will likely result in people purchasing the new AirPods, not having the experience that they hoped for, and concluding that addressing their hearing challenges professionally is not the right solution for them. 

The Many Positives 

This could be one of the biggest steps we’ve ever experienced toward addressing the outdated stigma and normalizing the conversation around hearing loss. 

The largest—and in some people’s eyes, the coolest—technology brand in the world will be promoting the benefits of better hearing and allowing users to experience what improved hearing could sound like. 

It could be the catalyst to changing the conversation around hearing loss, making treatment of hearing challenges far more common, and many people seeking a long-term prescription and professional solution. 

What’s Next? 

We’re closely monitoring this news, continuing to stay at the forefront of the latest announcements, and will continue to keep you updated and informed through this blog. 

If you have any questions, need any assistance, or would like to discuss your hearing challenges, then you can request a callback by clicking here or call us at (713) 827-1767. 

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Jana Emola-Austin, Au.D.

Raised in Bryan, Texas, Jana completed her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University before attending the University of North Texas with an ambition to earn her master’s degree in speech pathology. However, a required audiology class soon set her on a new career path. She became enthralled with the subject and says audiology resonated with her because it involved everything she enjoys – helping people to improve their lives and relationships with others and using technology to make positive impacts. Following this revelation, Jana went on to graduate with her Doctor of Audiology degree. After many years of assisting patients in the clinic on a daily basis, Jana’s main responsibilities at Allison Audiology have shifted to a management role. She now works behind the scenes focusing on administrative, management, and marketing responsibilities.