Apple Plans to Introduce ‘Hearing Aid Mode’ in Their Next iOS 18 Update: What Does This Mean?

by | 06/12/2024 | Industry News

Although nothing is official yet, speculation from reputable forums and news outlets suggests that Apple is planning to enter the hearing care market in late 2024 or early 2025.

Apple’s ‘Hearing Aid Mode’: What We Know So Far

Rumors indicate that iOS 18 will feature a new “Hearing Aid Mode.” This update, predicted to be released in September 2024, will allow Apple AirPods users to use their earphones as amplifiers in challenging listening situations. This feature is expected to complement Apple’s previous audio enhancements such as Live Listen (2019) and Conversation Boost (2021).

Accompanying this, Apple is rumored to release their 3rd generation AirPods Pro in early 2025, which are expected to optimize the benefits of the Hearing Aid Mode feature.

Why Is Apple Entering the Hearing Care Market?

In the next five years, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to increase dramatically from an estimated 19 million to 70 million, driven by the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age.

A study in late 2023 revealed that 23% of baby boomers are iPhone users. This means that around 16.1 million Americans could benefit from this new feature, potentially giving Apple a competitive edge over Android, which currently holds 55% of this demographic.

What Can We Expect from Hearing Aid Mode?

Currently, there are several ways to use apps to turn AirPods into sound amplifiers, often by enhancing the sounds picked up by your device’s microphones. The Hearing Aid Mode, paired with the new Apple AirPods Pro 3, is expected to be more sophisticated.

While details are speculative, it’s possible that Apple might introduce features allowing users to self-assess their hearing and utilize enhancements to aid in difficult listening environments.

Implications for the Hearing Care Industry

The FDA’s finalization of regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in August 2022 led to numerous questions about the impact on the hearing care industry. Major tech brands like Jabra and Sony quickly launched their OTC devices in October 2022 with mixed responses.

The media’s portrayal of these devices as “affordable hearing aids” led to many individuals purchasing them, only to find they did not meet their needs. This often resulted in a transition to full-time prescription solutions.

Unlike these OTC devices, Apple appears to be integrating Hearing Aid Mode into their existing AirPods rather than launching a new product solely for hearing aids.

Potential Concerns

A significant concern is that the introduction of Hearing Aid Mode could cause confusion. Media headlines might lead people to believe that Apple AirPods with this mode will be as effective as traditional prescription hearing aids.

This misconception could result in individuals purchasing the new AirPods, experiencing unsatisfactory results, and potentially dismissing professional hearing care solutions.

The Positive Impact

On the positive side, this development could play a crucial role in addressing the stigma around hearing loss. Apple, a leading technology brand, promoting the benefits of better hearing can help normalize hearing loss and encourage more people to seek treatment.

If hearing devices become associated with trendy, high-tech electronics, they will likely appeal to a broader audience. This shift could significantly alter public perception and encourage more people to address their hearing loss.

What’s Next?

We will continue to monitor this news and keep you updated through our blog. If you want to stay informed about the latest developments in hearing care technology, be sure to keep an eye on our posts.

Alternatively, if you have any questions or need assistance, you can request a callback or call us at (432) 689-2220.

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Brian Martin

Brian was born in San Angelo, Texas, and moved to Odessa at the age of 5. Brian, at a very early age, had a love of music and sound. At the age of 13 Brian started to play guitar. He graduated from Permian High School and after graduation went on tour playing music and to this day, still plays in the Midland-Odessa area. Brian has been married to his high school sweetheart, Amy, for 25 years and they have one son. His family means the world to him. Over the years Brian has opened up for acts like Jason Aldean, Spencer Davis Group, Denny Laine from Wings, and many other top name groups. As life slowed down the time came for Brian to take his passion for music and sound and apply it to Audiology. Brian loves helping people and his great grandmother’s deafness and his own challenges with hearing loss drove him to become a State Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist. Brian is a member of the International Hearing Society (IHS), and the Texas Hearing Aid Association (THAA). His care for his clients and his knowledge of the industry has lead to many people being helped in their hearing journey.

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