iOS 18 will include a new 'hearing aid mode' for AirPods Pro, report says

Today's AirPods offer several different features related to hearing health and accessibility. However, a new report today says Apple has big plans for iOS 18: a new “hearing aid mode”; for AirPods Pro.

AirPods Pro with iOS 18

In the latest issue of the Power On newsletter, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman writes that AirPods Pro aren't expected to see any hardware changes in 2024. Instead, he says the “big news will be the new Hearing Aid Mode coming with iOS 18.”

AirPods already have Live Listen, which was launched in iOS 12 in 2018. This feature essentially turns the iPhone into a directional microphone, transmitting audio recorded by that iPhone to the AirPods in real time. Several reviews over the years have shown how useful this feature can be.

In 2021, Apple also introduced Conversation Boost to AirPods Pro, which boosts the reception of a microphone directly in front of you so you can better hear someone talking to you. A 2022 study found that some of the existing features of the AirPods Pro are already comparable to much more expensive dedicated devices.

Also notable: In 2022, the FDA set new guidelines allowing a category of hearing aids that can be purchased without a prescription. Hearing aids in this category can be sold directly to consumers in stores or online without a medical examination or fitting by an audiologist.

More details about this new iOS 18 feature for AirPods Pro users are unclear. However, this is not the first time Gurman has written about Apple's plans to add new hearing health features to AirPods. Last year, he reported that Apple was also working on a hearing test feature for future AirPods.

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