The AirPods Pro May Soon Gain A Hearing Aid Mode

Apple may be getting ready to add a new hearing aid mode to the AirPods Pro in iOS 18.

TL;DR: AirPods Pro hearing aid mode could come in iOS 18

  • Hearing Aid Mode: The AirPods Pro 2 may gain a hearing aid mode in iOS 18. 🧏
  • Release Date: The new feature is rumored to be part of iOS 18 coming this fall. 📱
  • Compatibility: It’s likely the new mode would only work with the AirPods Pro 2. 🍎
  • Approval: It’s unknown if Apple will gain FDA approval to market the AirPods as a true hearing aid. 🦻

If you’ve got the latest AirPods Pro, your Apple earbuds may be gaining a new feature when iOS 18 ships later this year: some kind of hearing aid mode. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg.

There’s not much detail on the feature, but Bloomberg says 2024’s “big [AirPods Pro] news will be a major new hearing aid mode, coming alongside iOS 18.”

So let’s break this down…

Apple first debuted the AirPods Pro in 2019. The biggest feature of the buds was its excellent active noise cancellation tech. Apple sold the original AirPods Pro until 2022, when it introduced the second-generation AirPods Pro, with improved active noise cancelation.

In 2023, Apple did not release a new version of the AirPods Pro, but did release a USC-C case for the device, which now ships with the second-gen AirPods Pro (you can also buy the AirPods Pro USB-C case separately now).

According to Bloomberg’s report, the AirPods Pro will not get any kind of hardware update in 2024. But it will gain new features thanks to software updates in iOS 18 – namely, some type of hearing aid mode.

Bloomberg isn’t the first to report that Apple has been working on some kind of hearing aid mode for the AirPods Pro. Back in 2021, the Wall Street Journal first reported the company was looking into how the AirPods Pro could be used to aid those with hearing difficulties. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out at the time:

“Offering AirPods as hearing aids could significantly expand their reach. Millions of people suffer from hearing loss, including many whose impairment is less severe and choose not to treat it, experts say.

“New regulations, expected to be completed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next year, would permit the sale of a new class of cheaper hearing aids direct to consumers to treat mild to moderate hearing loss.

“About 28 million Americans suffer from mild hearing loss, yet only 5% use a hearing aid, estimates the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins. Another 12 million suffer from moderate hearing loss, though only 37% of this group use a hearing aid.”

The Wall Street Journal

In other words, if Apple does add some kind of hearing aid feature to the AirPods Pro with the release of iOS 18, it could open up the device to a completely new market with millions of potential customers.

However, there are some caveats to this. The Wall Street Journal’s report mentions that the FDA was looking into approving a new class of hearing aids that consumers could purchase over the counter. The FDA has now done this via a classification of devices designated “Personal Sound Amplification Products” which are devices that can amplify certain types of sounds. However, the FDA’s new rules say these types of devices cannot be marketed as hearing aid alternatives as they cannot treat any kind of hearing issue.

If Apple’s new iOS 18 feature does nothing more than make the AirPods Pro a “Personal Sound Amplification Product”, then the company wouldn’t be able to advertise the buds as being a hearing aid device.

Alternatively, Apple could have enough trust in its new feature to submit the AirPods Pro as a device that can help with hearing issues to the FDA for approval. We will need to wait until Apple releases iOS 18 in the fall to know for sure.

Michael Grothaus

Michael Grothaus is an American author and journalist with a flair for exploring the intersection of technology, creativity, and digital culture. With a background in film, journalism, and creative writing, he brings a unique perspective to the world of mobile technology. His work has been featured in renowned publications like Fast Company, The Guardian, and Engadget. At KnowYourMobile, Michael leverages his extensive knowledge to guide readers through the complexities of mobile devices, helping them make informed choices in the fast-paced tech landscape.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Keep Reading

Explore more →
Are The AirPods 3 Waterproof
airpods pro charging case
AirPods Pro 2 Battery Life
Scroll to Top