Apple's next AirPods could help your hearing

The lines between earbuds and hearing aids are getting increasingly blurred

Apple AirPods 3
(Image credit: Apple)

Could the hearing aids of the future have an Apple logo on them? We've already seen the introduction of features such as Live Listen and Conversation Boost in the AirPods Pro 2, and the next few generations of Apple's best true wireless earbuds could have even more hearing assistance.

That's according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who predicts that Apple will be bringing significant hearing health features to AirPods in the next year or two. Writing in his Power On email newsletter, he says that Apple will be "upgrading the AirPods to become a health tool". 

The current hearing enhancement features aren't medically approved by the US FDA, but according to Gurman Apple is taking significant steps to "perform these tasks more officially".

Why hearing AirPods are an excellent idea

Many of Apple's most profitable customers are people like me: ageing music fans and long-term Apple users who turned their iPods up far too loud in the aughts and who are now discovering the damage we've done to our ears. 

As we've got older and more health conscious Apple has already successfully sold us the Apple Watch, and by offering health-related hearing features it may well persuade us away from the best noise-cancelling earbuds from other brands. 

I know in my own case that as much as I love my Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, redesigned AirPods Pro that could actually help me hear my pals in the pub would be awfully tempting.

Hearing health is a largely untapped market for tech firms just now: for many years the regulated (and in my opinion, obscenely overpriced) hearing aid market and the unregulated world of headphones didn't overlap. But regulations are changing in the US, one of the key markets, and as a result we're starting to see firms such as Sony and Bose take an interest. After all, the tech in noise-cancelling and transparency modes can be just as useful for helping ageing head-bangers like me deal with hearing loss as it is for keeping things quiet on your commute. 

I think Gurman's right on this one: it's not a case of if AirPods will have more hearing-health features; it's a case of when Apple will add them.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (