Rumors suggest that iOS 18 may include a new feature called “Hearing Aid Mode.” 

Although nothing is official at the time this article was published, there is speculation from a number of reputable forums and news outlets that tech giant Apple may be about to enter the hearing care market in late 2024/early 2025. 

Here’s what we know at this time. 

With the next iOS update in (predicted) September 2024, Apple AirPods users could be able to use their earphones as amplifiers to improve their hearing in challenging listening environments. This update is thought to be an enhancement of their previously launched Live Listen (2019) and Conversation Boost (2021) features. 

Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter in January suggested this could be the “biggest” software update in iPhone’s history. 

Nothing is confirmed to date, but Apple has scheduled a Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10 when they are expected to release details of their iOS 18 software.  

In addition, rumor has it that Apple will be releasing their 3rd generation AirPods Pro in early 2025. These advanced technology earbuds are believed to be the hardware that will allow users access to all of the benefits from the Hearing Aid Mode feature. 

Why Would Apple Introduce This Feature? 

Five years from now, the number of 65+ year olds will jump from an estimated 19 million people to an unprecedented 70 million people as baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) reach retirement age. 

Marketing research conducted in late 2023 found that 23% of baby boomers are iPhone users, meaning that 16,100,000 Americans could benefit from this new software feature and accompanying hardware. 

The move appears to be a strategic one designed to recapture a significant market share from Android who has a 55% hold on this demographic using the earbud market already dominated by Apple. 

What Can You Expect from Hearing Aid Mode? 

There are already a number of ways to use your AirPods as sound amplifiers by using apps that capture sounds through your microphones that can be amplified into your earbuds. 

Apple may introduce features to allow you to self-assess your hearing and utilize features to improve hearing in difficult listening environments, according to speculation. 

The predicted Hearing Aid Mode software combined with the new Apple AirPods Pro 3 will likely provide more sophisticated solutions that could include more advanced noise reduction and sound processing technology. 

Be assured that we will be watching Apple’s June 10 conference to find out more and share any updates with you on this blog. 

How Might This Impact Hearing Care? 

Remember when the FDA finalized regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in August 2022? 

Initially, there was a lot of speculation about what this would mean for the hearing care industry and the hearing health of individuals. Media coverage of the new regulation added an element of confusion by declaring that “affordable hearing aids had arrived,” and many individuals rushed out to purchase them. 

In October of 2022, leading tech brands such as Jabra and Sony quickly launched OTC devices into the market, receiving a mixed response. Those who purchased these OTC hearing aids soon realized that they did not meet their needs/expectations. 

In some cases, OTC hearing aids served as a catalyst to seeking a full-time prescription solution. 

Apple seems to be taking a different approach by building Hearing Aid Mode functionality into their already best-selling AirPods rather than launching a new sole purpose-focused OTC product. 

One Major Concern  

The confusion generated by the new 2022 OTC regulations could be repeated as media hype and advertising reports on the release of Hearing Aid Mode and the scheduled release of the newest Apple AirPods, leading people to assume that this combination is able to address hearing challenges in the same way as prescription hearing technology. 

As individuals with hearing challenges purchase the new AirPods discover they aren’t getting the results they hoped for, they could conclude that addressing their hearing challenges with the use of a hearing aid is not the right solution for them.

There Are Some Positives 

With the largest—some say, the coolest—technology brand promoting the benefits of better hearing, many users will begin to experience what improved hearing could sound like. 

This could be one of the biggest steps the hearing care industry has experienced in relation to addressing the outdated stigma and normalizing conversations about hearing loss. 

By normalizing the conversation around hearing loss, hearing assessments and treatment of hearing challenges could become far more common, leading many to seek long-term prescription and professional hearing care solutions. 

What’s Next? 

We are always at the forefront of the latest announcements about hearing technology and will continue to closely monitor any news about Apple’s update and AirPods as it becomes available and then pass that information on to you. 

To ensure that you don’t miss out on the latest news and updates, subscribe to the Fox Valley ENT Associates’ email newsletter today!  

Also remember that if you have any questions, need any assistance, or would like to discuss your hearing challenges with a member of our team, then you can request a callback by clicking here, or call us at

Algonquin: (847) 854-0005
Elgin: (847) 741-8500
St. Charles: (630) 377-5000
Huntley: (847) 741-8500

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Brittany Hampsch, AuD

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Champaign in 2004 and her doctorate from Northwestern in 2014. She is fluent in American Sign Language and worked as an interpreter before becoming an audiologist. Brittany is passionate about communication and helping those in need in any way she can. Her kindness and helpfulness earn her regular praises from Fox Valley ENT patients who are so grateful that she has joined our team. In her spare time, Brittany is an avid scuba diver, enjoys camping and cooking, and tends to a large saltwater aquarium in her home with her husband and two sons.