Everything We Know about Apple’s New ‘Hearing Aid Mode’

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Rumor has it that tech giant Apple has plans to enter the hearing care market in late 2024/ early 2025. Nothing is official at the time of publishing this article, but based on speculation from many reputable news sources and forums, iOS 18 will include a new feature called “Hearing Aid Mode.”

Here is everything we know about this so far.

The new Hearing Aid Mode feature is predicted to be released in September 2024 as part of the next iOS 18 update. This update is intended to enable Apple AirPods users to use their AirPods as amplifiers in challenging listening situations. Apple has previously launched their Live Listen (2019) and Conversation Boost (2021) features, which will complement Hearing Aid Mode.

Apple will be holding their Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, where they are expected to release the details of the new iOS 18 update. Nothing is confirmed at this stage, but Mark Gurman, a tech reporter for Bloomberg, has suggested that this could be the biggest update to Apple’s software that consumers have seen yet.

We have also heard several rumors that Apple will release the 3rd generation of their AirPods Pro in early 2025. This release could allow users to gain even more benefits from the new Hearing Aid Mode feature.

Why Might Apple Release This Feature?

In the next five years, we will see a large increase in the number of 65+ year olds in the United States. As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, the number of 65+ year olds will grow from an estimated 19 million people to 70 million people.

Why does this matter? Well, according to a study conducted in 2023, 23% of baby boomers are iPhone users, and 55% are Android users. This is a strategic move on Apple’s part, as it could help them take the market share from their competition.

What Can You Expect from Hearing Aid Mode?

Many apps that are available in the Apple App Store allow you to use your AirPods as sound amplifiers. Some of these apps are free. While these apps aren’t an effective solution for everyone, they can take the sounds that they can hear via your microphone and amplify them.

The prediction is that Apple’s new Hearing Aid Mode will be more sophisticated than using an app. This is only speculation at this point, but we suspect that Apple will release features that will help you hear better in difficult listening environments and self-assess your hearing.

We’ll be watching Apple’s conference on June 10 to learn more, and we’ll share any updates with you.

How Will This Impact Hearing Care?

We can get an idea of how this will impact hearing care by taking a look at the past.

In August of 2022, the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. This left a lot of questions about what this would mean for the hearing health industry. When major tech brands like Sony and Jabra launched their over-the-counter devices, the response was mixed.

After the media picked up the story and announced that “affordable hearing aids had arrived,” many individuals rushed to purchase over-the-counter devices. Over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t a suitable solution for everyone, and many people realized that the devices didn’t meet their needs and expectations. In many cases, this was a good thing, as it prompted individuals to seek a full-time prescription solution and professional care.

Based on what we know about Apple’s solution, they seem to be taking a different approach and building Hearing Aid Mode into their already popular AirPods rather than launching a brand-new product.

One Major Concern

When over-the-counter hearing aids and online hearing care first reached the market, there was quite a bit of confusion. The media led many individuals to believe that over-the-counter devices are just as effective as prescription hearing devices.

Our biggest concern about the potential Apple Hearing Aid Mode is that people will purchase the new AirPods and expect them to solve all of their hearing problems. When they don’t have the results they hoped for, they may conclude that seeking professional hearing care won’t work for them, either.

The Many Positives

In many people’s eyes, Apple is one of the coolest technology companies in the world. If Apple promotes the benefits of better hearing, it could be a major step toward breaking the outdated stigma around hearing loss.

We think this update could help the younger generation realize that hearing healthcare isn’t just for older folks. It could play a role in changing the conversation around hearing loss, making treatment of hearing challenges more common and encouraging individuals to seek a long-term, professional solution.

What’s Next?

We will continue to monitor this news closely and will keep this blog updated as we receive new information.

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, you can reach our office by calling us at the location most convenient for you. Or, request a callback and a friendly member of our team will be in touch with you soon.

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Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Jennifer G. Mayer purchased South Shore Hearing Center in January 2016. She was born and raised in Swampscott, MA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing in 1996 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and her Master’s degree in audiology from the Northeastern University in 1998. Dr. Mayer fulfilled her Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) in 1999 at Hear USA and Cape Cod Ear, Nose and Throat. Following her CFY, Dr. Mayer was a staff audiologist in various clinical settings, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She joined the South Shore Hearing Center staff in 2006. Dr. Mayer obtained her Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree from the A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2008. Dr. Mayer’s specialties are diagnostic audiology, pediatric and adult amplification and educational audiology. Dr. Mayer is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. She is licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Audiology and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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