Apple’s “Hearing Aid Mode” Predicted to Release With iOS 18—What Does This Mean for Hearing Aids?

05/23/2024 | Hearing Aids, News, Technology

Rumors speculate that iOS 18 will introduce “Hearing Aid Mode,” Apple’s latest venture into hearing care, in September 2024.

While it’s all speculation at this point, it’s hypothesized that the new feature will allow Apple AirPods users to use their earphones as sound amplifiers, supporting them in busy listening environments. This follows 2019’s “Live Listen” feature, as well as “Conversation Boost,” released in 2021.

Apple has scheduled a Worldwide Developers Conference for June 10, where we should expect details about iOS 18, along with the release of the third generation of Apple AirPods Pro, which should be the hardware that “Hearing Aid Mode” will flourish in.

So, what does this mean for hearing care?

​Why Would Apple Introduce This Feature?

According to a study done in late 2023, approximately 23 percent of Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) are iPhone users. Within the next five years, the US will see the number of people aged 65+ increase from an estimated 19 million to 70 million people as the Baby Boomers reach retirement age.

The introduction of “Hearing Aid Mode” appears to be a very strategic move—it may allow Apple to capture more of the Android users that make up 55 percent of the Baby Boomers and make a point of difference in the earphone market that Apple already dominate.

What Will “Hearing Aid Mode” Be Like?

Currently, there are several apps you can use with your AirPods to amplify sound taken in by their microphones, but it looks like “Hearing Aid Mode,” especially when matched with the AirPods Pro 3, will be more sophisticated.

Based on speculation, Apple may introduce self-assessment features to let you test your hearing and then use “Hearing Aid Mode” to help you in difficult listening environments. We’ll be looking forward to Apple’s June 10 conference to learn more—and we’ll share more updates here with you.

How Will “Hearing Aid Mode” Affect Hearing Care?

This reminds me of another story: when the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter hearing aids back in 2022, confusion and questions arose about what they meant for hearing care and our hearing health.

With mixed reviews and unmet expectations, over-the-counter hearing aids weren’t all the media cracked them up to be. The headlines declared that “affordable hearing care has arrived,” which didn’t reduce the confusion at all, but it did bring the conversation about the impact of hearing loss out into the open. Many people realized they needed more out of a hearing care solution, and they sought out prescription hearing aids as a result.

Apple is building “Hearing Aid Mode” into their previously existing earphones—their best-selling ones, to boot—so it’ll be a slightly different approach if the predictions are true.

Our Biggest Concern

With how popular Apple products are, we’re concerned that people will read the media headlines and believe that their AirPods will be just as powerful as standard prescription hearing technology.

This will likely follow a similar plotline to the over-the-counter hearing aids story: people will purchase the new product after hearing media rave about it, not have the experience that they hoped for, and decide that addressing their hearing challenges professionally isn’t the right solution.

The Silver Linings

Apple is a consumer electronics giant. Many people already have and trust Apple products; a low-risk entry through using a product they are familiar with will encourage more discussion on hearing health. Apple bringing a new tool to the table is just another aspect of that growing conversation.

Apple AirPods as an OTC (over the counter) hearing solution or a PSAP (personal sound amplification product) is the obvious next step. Will it revolutionize hearing healthcare? Probably not. But will it bring more awareness of the importance of hearing to a broader audience? I think it will.

​What’s Next?

We’re keeping a keen eye on this news—this blog will be updated as we find out more about the latest announcements on “Hearing Aid Mode.”

For any questions about hearing care, or concerns about your own unique situation, please feel free to contact us at (541) 612-7555.

When Was Your Last Hearing Test

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare, CCC-A, specializes in pediatric and adult diagnostics and amplification. Working with adults to help manage tinnitus and hearing loss since 2002, she is an expert in both of these areas. Additionally, she is a pediatric audiology mentor and educator for pediatric audiologists across the country and is one of the most respected experts on pediatric audiology.

    Request a Callback

    Don’t want to wait? Call us
    at: (541) 612-7555

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.