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Apple’s ‘Hearing Aid Mode’ Predicted for iOS 18 Update – What Does This Mean for Hearing Aids?

by | Jun 2, 2024 | Industry News

Set to be released as part of the next iOS 18 update in (predicted) September 2024, Apple has been rumored to be releasing a new feature to work with the Apple AirPods called “Hearing Aid Mode.” 

This new feature is predicted to help users amplify noise in difficult listening situations and isn’t their first venture into hearing aid adjacent features – 2019’s Live Listen and 2021’s Conversation Boost features were similar, but Hearing Aid Mode is set to be a little more sophisticated. 

While nothing is set in stone just yet, Apple has scheduled a Worldwide Developers Conference for June 10 where details about iOS 18 and Hearing Aid Mode are expected to be released. To accompany Hearing Aid Mode, the third generation AirPods Pro could be released in early 2025, believed to be the hardware that brings the most benefit from Hearing Aid Mode. 

This is all speculation as of now, but it’s suggested that this could be the biggest software update in iPhone history. 

Why Would Apple Introduce Hearing Aid Mode? 

Within the next five years, the US will see the number of people ages 65 and older grow from an estimated 19 million to approximately 70 million people, due to the baby boomer generation (people born between 1946-1964) reaching retirement age. 

A study done in late 2023 found that 23% of baby boomers use iPhones. This means that an approximate 16,100,000 Americans could utilize Hearing Aid Mode with their current devices –and Apple could take market share from Android, who has a 55% hold on the baby boomers. 

This appears to be a strategic move; create a point of difference in the markets they dominate while aiming to attract more customers. 

What Will Hearing Aid Mode Be Like? 

While there are a number of apps that utilize your AirPods as sound amplifiers, it’s looking like Hearing Aid Mode, especially when partnered with the new Apple AirPods Pro 3, will be more refined. 

Based on speculation, Apple’s Hearing Aid Mode will allow users to self-assess their hearing and utilize features to help in difficult listening environments, like amplifying sound to hear better in loud spaces. 

It’s all speculation at this point, but we’ll be keeping a sharp eye on Apple’s June 10 conference to learn more. Any updates will be added to this blog for you. 

What Impact Will This Have on Hearing Healthcare? 

This reminds me of back in 2022, when the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter hearing aids. There were a lot of questions about what this would mean for the hearing care industry, but there was significantly more confusion from the customers who purchased them. 

As the media declared that “affordable hearing aids had arrived” and people flocked to get them, the realization came that over-the-counter hearing aids were akin to buying readers glasses: They’ll work for some circumstances but not all. 

People bought them, didn’t have the experienced they hoped for, and for many cases, this served as the starting point to seeking out full-time hearing health solutions with prescription hearing aids, which are tailored to the individual’s specific hearing loss challenges. 

While Apple is taking a slightly different approach with Hearing Aid Mode—building the software into their already best-selling AirPods—we’ll see how this plays out with regards to the hearing aid industry. 

Our Biggest Concerns 

Apple is a technology giant; we have no doubts that the media will jump on Hearing Aid Mode, and advertising messages could lead people to believe that it’s as powerful as prescription hearing aid technology. 

This will likely result in people purchasing the new AirPods or testing out Hearing Aid Mode on their current devices, not having the experience they hoped for with them, and decide that addressing their hearing challenges professionally couldn’t be the right solution for what they need. 

The Silver Linings 

On the other hand, this could prove a major boom to addressing the outdated stigmas attached to hearing care and how people view hearing loss. 

To have Apple come out with something that will address hearing loss challenges, no matter how powerful or not it may be, will show people worldwide the benefits of better hearing and allow users to experience what improved hearing could sound like. 

Hearing Aid Mode could be the catalyst to changing the conversation around hearing loss, making treatment of hearing challenges as common as going to the dentist. We’re hoping that it can serve as the initial step for people seeking a long-term prescription and professional solution. 

What Comes Next? 

We’ll continue monitoring this news as it plays out – updates on Hearing Aid Mode will be added to this blog as we get them. 

Alternatively, for questions about hearing care or concerns about your hearing challenges, please request a callback from our team or contact us at (936) 632-2252. 

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Tina Evans HIS, COHC

Tina has had the privilege of being part of this amazing hearing healthcare practice for over 15 years. She became a Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS) as well as a Certified Occupational Hearing Conservationist (COHC) in 2014. When she first joined Audiological Services, it was only the audiologist and herself; now, along with the rest of the team, have served the community well and grown the practice for over 25 years. Her mission is to provide professional, quality hearing healthcare while increasing public awareness regarding the early identification, treatment, and rehabilitation options for hearing loss. Her vision as the premier hearing healthcare center in East Texas where staff members genuinely welcome all who enter the door, work together to provide unsurpassed quality of care and effectively improve quality of life for her patients. Her values are honest, ethical professionalism, personalized care, integrity, reliable service with the most advanced technology, innovative hearing solutions with guaranteed satisfaction, and a warm friendly atmosphere. In her time away from work, Tina enjoys being involved in her church, and traveling with her husband, family, or friends in her RV. Tina’s handsome grandson is her pride and joy.