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 the tech world buzzes with anticipation, rumors suggest that Apple is gearing up to introduce a groundbreaking feature in their upcoming iOS 18 update: “Hearing Aid Mode.” Expected to be unveiled in late 2024 or early 2025, this development could signify a major shift in how we approach hearing care.  

We’re closely monitoring these developments and their potential impact on our patients and the industry. 

What We Know So Far 

While Apple has yet to make an official announcement, speculation is rife across reputable forums and news outlets. The anticipated iOS 18 update, likely scheduled for September 2024, may include a Hearing Aid Mode that transforms Apple AirPods into powerful sound amplifiers.  

This feature would complement Apple’s existing audio enhancement tools like Live Listen (introduced in 2019) and Conversation Boost (introduced in 2021). 

In tandem with this, Apple is rumored to be launching the 3rd generation AirPods Pro in early 2025. These new AirPods are expected to harness the full capabilities of the Hearing Aid Mode, offering users a sophisticated solution for challenging listening environments. 

The Strategy Behind Apple’s Move 

The upcoming wave of baby boomers reaching retirement age is a key factor in Apple’s strategic decision. The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to jump from 19 million to an astonishing 70 million by 2025.  

With a significant portion of this demographic being iPhone users, Apple’s Hearing Aid Mode could potentially serve millions of people. 

This move not only aims to capture a larger share of the earphone market but also seeks to position Apple as a pioneer in integrating health-focused features into everyday tech. 

What to Expect from Hearing Aid Mode 

Currently, various apps can turn AirPods into basic sound amplifiers. However, Apple’s Hearing Aid Mode is anticipated to be far more advanced. Although details remain speculative, features may include the ability to self-assess hearing and adjust settings to improve audio clarity in difficult environments. 

The new AirPods Pro 3 are expected to feature enhanced sound processing capabilities, making them a valuable tool for those with mild to moderate hearing difficulties. 

Potential Impacts on the Hearing Care Industry 

The FDA’s approval of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in August 2022 introduced a new dynamic to the hearing care market. Companies like Jabra and Sony quickly released their OTC devices, which received mixed reviews. Many users found that these devices did not meet their expectations, prompting them to seek professional solutions. 

Apple’s approach seems different. Instead of launching a separate OTC hearing aid, they are integrating Hearing Aid Mode into their existing, popular AirPods. This strategy could streamline user experience and reduce confusion compared to standalone OTC devices. 

Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions 

One of the primary concerns with the introduction of Hearing Aid Mode is potential confusion among users. Media coverage may lead some to believe that these enhanced AirPods are equivalent to professional hearing aids. 

This misconception could result in users having unrealistic expectations and potentially delaying professional hearing care. 

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. 

This development could be a major step toward normalizing the use of hearing aids and making them more acceptable to a broader audience. It could also serve as an initial step for many to seek professional, long-term solutions for their hearing challenges. 

Staying Informed 

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 281-444-9800. 

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Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry in 2003, and earned her Doctorate of Audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a preferred provider for the American Institute of Balance (ABI), a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA) and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association. In addition to her years of experience identifying, diagnosing and treating all types and degrees of hearing loss, and vestibular disorders, Dr. Brooks has spent the last 13 years becoming an expert in Tinnitus management and therapy. Dr. Brooks is also one of the few providers in the country certified for Lyric Implantable Devices. For over seven years, Dr. Brooks successfully ran and operated more than six audiology clinics for one of the largest practices in the state of Texas before joining the North Houston Hearing Solutions team in 2016. Dr. Brooks prides herself on providing her patients with the highest quality of care. She loves her patients dearly and feels so fortunate that she gets to help improve their daily lives. This love, combined with her impressive skill set, business experience and passion for helping people hear has made Dr. Lacey Brooks a wonderful addition to the North Houston Hearing Solutions’ team. When not at the office, Dr. Brooks enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, family, and friends. Dr. Brooks is also very involved in her church and with mission work in her community and abroad.

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