Apple’s New Hearing Aid Mode: What You Need to Know

by | May 20, 2024 | News

Based on speculation from many reputable news sources and forums, Apple has plans to enter the hearing care market in late 2024/early 2025. At the time of publishing this article, nothing is official, but rumors suggest that Apple’s iOS 18 update will include a new feature called “Hearing Aid Mode.”

Read on for everything we know so far.

This new update is predicted to be released as part of the next iOS update in September 2024. It will complement Apple’s previously launched “Live Listen” (2019) and “Conversation Boost” (2021) features. “Hearing Aid Mode” is intended to enable Apple AirPods users to use their AirPods as amplifiers for use in challenging situations.

While nothing is confirmed yet, Apple has scheduled their Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, where they are expected to release the details of the new iOS 18 update. In the January edition of his newsletter, Mark Gurman suggests that this could be the biggest update to Apple’s software that we’ve seen yet.

It’s also rumored that Apple will release the 3rd generation of their AirPods Pro in early 2025, which may allow users to gain even more benefits from the new “Hearing Aid Mode” feature.

Why Would Apple Release This Feature?

In the next five years, the number of 65+-year-olds in the United States will increase from an estimated 19 million people to 70 million people, as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age.

According to a study conducted in 2023, 23 percent of Baby Boomers are iPhone users. This is a strategic move on Apple’s part, as this means that 16,100,000 Americans could benefit from this feature. Apple could take the market share from Android, their competitor, which currently has a 55 percent hold on this demographic.

How Will “Hearing Aid Mode” Be Useful?

Today, there are many apps available in the Apple App Store that allow you to use your AirPods as sound amplifiers.

The prediction is that the new “Hearing Aid Mode” combined with the new AirPods Pro 3 devices will be much more effective than using an app. This is only speculation at this point, but we suspect that Apple may release features that will allow you to self-assess your hearing.

We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more information, and we’ll be watching Apple’s conference on June 10 to learn more and share updates with you.

How Will This Impact Hearing Care?

We have been trending in this direction for the last couple of years. In August 2022, after the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, tech brands like Sony and Jabra jumped on the opportunity to launch their own OTC devices.

The response to these OTC devices was mixed. The media caused confusion by announcing that “affordable hearing aids had arrived,” and many individuals rushed to purchase them. However, many people discovered that these OTC devices did not meet their needs or expectations and opted to seek a prescription solution.

The good news is that wearables have become very common and have helped with the stigma of having something in your ears that others can see.

One Major Concern

When over-the-counter hearing aids were released to the market in 2022, it caused quite a bit of confusion. We are concerned that many people could be led to believe that Apple AirPods and “Hearing Aid Mode” will be as powerful as prescription hearing technology and professional hearing care.

This potential solution from Apple will allow individuals to hear a bit better, but it will not be anything like a prescription hearing aid. Just like OTC reading glasses, it will help somewhat, but you may need a prescription tailored to you and your wants and needs.

The Many Positives

Apple is one of the largest—and coolest—technology companies in the world. If Apple will be promoting the benefits of better hearing and allowing AirPods users to experience a glimpse of improved hearing, this could be a huge step toward normalizing the conversation around hearing loss.

We believe that it’s time to break the outdated stigma around hearing loss and hearing devices. Apple’s rumored update could help make treating hearing loss more common and may serve as an initial step for many people seeking a long-term solution to hearing loss.

What Happens Next?

We will continue to monitor this news closely and will keep you informed through this blog as we receive updates.

If you have any questions or concerns or would like to schedule an appointment, you can reach our office at (940) 387-0550. Or request a callback and a member of our team will be in touch.

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Dr. Katie L. Kufeldt, Audiologist

Dr. Kufeldt received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences as well as her Doctorate of Audiology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, Texas Academy of Audiology and is certified by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. She is licensed by the State of Texas to practice audiology and fit and dispense hearing aids.

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