We hope that the conversations sparked by this new release will inspire those who need it to seek professional care

Everything You Need to Know about Apple’s New ‘Hearing Aid Mode’

by | May 31, 2024 | Industry News

Although nothing is officially confirmed at the time of writing this article, numerous reputable forums and news outlets suggest that tech giant Apple might be venturing into the hearing care market in late 2024 or early 2025. 

Here’s a rundown of what we know so far. 

Rumors indicate that Apple’s next iOS 18 update will feature a new addition called “Hearing Aid Mode.” This update may enable Apple AirPods users to use their earbuds as sound amplifiers, enhancing hearing in challenging situations. Hearing Aid Mode will build upon Apple’s earlier features like Live Listen (2019) and Conversation Boost (2021). 

While nothing has been confirmed yet, Apple is set to hold their Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, where they are expected to release the details of iOS 18. Mark Gurman suggested in his Power On newsletter that this might be the “biggest” software update iPhone users have seen so far. 

It’s also rumored that Apple will release the third generation of their AirPods Pro in early 2025, which will maximize the benefits of the new Hearing Aid Mode. 

Why Would Apple Introduce This Feature? 

In the next five years, the population of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to soar from 19 million to around 70 million as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age. 

A 2023 study revealed that only 23% of baby boomers use iPhones, compared to 55% who use Android devices. Introducing Hearing Aid Mode is a strategic move on Apple’s part, as they already lead the earphone market with their AirPods. This new update could help them take the market share from their competition.  

What to Expect from Hearing Aid Mode 

Several apps in the Apple App Store already allow users to use AirPods as sound amplifiers by capturing sounds via the microphone and amplifying them. 

However, we expect Hearing Aid Mode, especially when used with the newest AirPods Pro, to offer more advanced features. Rumors suggest that Apple might introduce features that will allow users to self-assess their hearing and hear better in difficult listening environments. 

We’ll be watching Apple’s June 10 conference closely and will share any updates here on our blog. 

How Will This Impact Hearing Care in the US? 

To gauge the potential impact on hearing care, we need to look to the past. In August 2022, after the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, major tech brands like Sony and Jabra quickly launched their own OTC devices. 

The media caused confusion among consumers by announcing that “affordable hearing aids had arrived.” This led many people to purchase these devices, only to find they did not meet their needs, prompting them to seek out prescription solutions instead. 

One Big Concern 

We worry that advertisements and media claims might lead people to buy the new AirPods, not achieve the desired results, and mistakenly believe that professional hearing care won’t work for them. 

It’s important to distinguish between amplifiers and prescription technology with professional hearing support – these are not the same and will not deliver the same results. Amplifiers may help some individuals who only need help hearing in certain situations, but they’re no replacement for professional care.  

The Positives 

The buzz around Apple’s new hearing care feature could help to break the outdated stigma around hearing care. Apple is one of the world’s largest and coolest technology companies in the world. If Apple will be promoting the benefits of improved hearing, it could help to normalize the conversation about hearing healthcare. 

Any discussion about treating hearing loss is a positive thing. We hope that the conversations sparked by this new release will inspire those who need it to seek professional care. 

The Positives 

The buzz around Apple’s new hearing care feature could help to break the outdated stigma around hearing care. Apple is one of the world’s largest and coolest technology companies in the world. If Apple will be promoting the benefits of improved hearing, it could help to normalize the conversation about hearing healthcare. 

Any discussion about treating hearing loss is a positive thing. We hope that the conversations sparked by this new release will inspire those who need it to seek professional care. 

What’s Next? 

We will continue to monitor this story and provide updates through this blog as new information becomes available. 

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (864) 999-0261. You can also request a callback, and a team member will get in touch with you soon. 

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Daniel Hewson, M.S. Audiology/Owner

Born and raised in Western New York, Dan Hewson comes to our practice with over 25 years of experience in the field. With a master’s degree in audiology from SUNY Fredonia, Mr. Hewson has extensive experience working in several of the largest Otolaryngology practices in the country, and also as a Regional Manager with Siemens Medical Audiology Division. Father, husband and full time employee with us, Dan is currently a student working to earn his doctorate in audiology. Dan was naturally attracted to the field of audiology because he grew up with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss. He has followed hearing aid development, research and rehabilitation. If you want to know what hearing impairment is really about and how hearing devices can change your life, Dan Hewson is the one to ask. He’s been wearing hearing aids since childhood (44 years) and has an intimate understanding of the hearing impaired. His personal hearing device story is fascinating and illuminating for anyone, but especially for those who may be hesitant about the hearing rehabilitation process.

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