AirPods users are in for a treat as Apple is planning to roll out an innovative hearing health feature that would enable users to assess potential hearing issues. The upcoming feature, which will be supported by iOS 17, might also be able to calculate body temperature via the ear canal. These updates come from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, as shared in the recent Power On newsletter.
As it stands, AirPods already support audiograms, audio profiles that enable the devices to gauge potential hearing weak spots. The data generated can then be used to tune the AirPods to the unique hearing abilities of each user. At present, an audiogram can be produced using the Mimi app, but Apple seems to be planning on integrating this feature directly into its operating system, thereby Sherlocking the third-party app.
Competing brands such as Jabra and Nothing have already included similar features in their wireless earbuds. For instance, the Jabra Elite 75t introduced MySound in 2020, a feature that creates custom sound profiles after administering a series of tones to each ear. The newly launched Nothing Ear 2 also offers its own hearing test and audio profile features.
According to Gurman, Apple is considering repositioning the AirPods as over-the-counter hearing aids, a strategy made possible by the FDA’s recent approval of over-the-counter hearing aid sales.
In addition to the above, Gurman revealed that future AirPods could potentially measure body temperature via the ear canal. This concept is not entirely new, with similar rumors circulating as far back as late 2021. Apple had even launched a similar feature for menstrual cycle tracking with the Apple Watch Series 8. If implemented in the AirPods, this feature could potentially offer more accuracy, enabling Apple to provide users with real-time health insights, such as detecting early signs of illness.
On a less positive note, Gurman anticipates that the updated AirPods Pro and their new health features might still be “several months or even years away”. While there’s speculation about the arrival of USB-C AirPods, the AirPods Pro themselves seem to be on a three-year refresh cycle. The recent launch of the 2nd gen AirPods Pro last year seems to confirm this pattern.
Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, expects a USB-C version of the AirPods Pro to arrive later this year, in Q2 or Q3. He also anticipates a $99 AirPods and a new set of AirPods Max coming as early as next year. Despite this, it’s worth noting that Apple’s plans for the original AirPods or the AirPods 3 do not seem to include major updates. The new hardware could simply be a new case with an updated charging port, similar to the standalone MagSafe case introduced for the AirPods Pro in 2021.