Apple has acknowledged that AirPods could be good for your health and hinted that it’s putting a lot of money into this area. Now, Bloomberg says that Apple will likely release new health features for AirPods in the next year or two.
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg wrote in the latest issue of his Power On newsletter that Apple “intends to upgrade the AirPods to become a health tool in the next year or two.” In particular, he says that early features will include “the ability to get some kind of hearing data.”
Gurman says that AirPods already have a feature called Live Listen, which came out with iOS 12 in 2018. This feature basically turns an iPhone into a directional microphone that sends the sound it picks up directly to AirPods.
But the FDA hasn’t approved Live Listen. Gurman believes that this kind of regulatory approval could happen in the future:
I think Apple wants to make the AirPods into a health tool in the next year or two, with the ability to get hearing data of some kind. The AirPods have had a feature called “Live Listen” for a long time that can boost sound from across the room. This makes the earbuds kind of like a hearing aid.
This isn’t FDA-approved and isn’t supposed to replace a hearing aid. But since Apple wants to make health one of its next big projects, I wouldn’t be surprised if the AirPods did eventually take on these functions more officially. That would help tens of millions, if not more, people.
In an interview from 2021, Apple executive Kevin Lynch said that AirPods could have health benefits. “We already combine data from multiple sensors on some devices, and I think there’s a lot of potential here,” he said.
It’s still unclear what kind of health features will be added to AirPods. Even so, it’s a clear area of interest for Apple that fits with Tim Cook’s overall goals.