New AirPods Point to a Hearing Aid Mode, Even More Health Tracking

Commentary: With iOS 18 around the corner, will AirPods get another hearing health option?

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables | Smartwatches | Mobile phones | Photography | Health tech | Assistive robotics Credentials
  • Webby Award honoree, 2x Gold Telly Award winner
Lexy Savvides
2 min read
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's AirPods have always received useful features with software updates and with iOS 18 expected to be announced at WWDC on June 10, AirPods could get even more health options. Apple has heart health features with the Apple Watch, mobility with walking steadiness-detection on the iPhone and safety with fall detection and emergency SOS to name a few. But I think the AirPods could be another way Apple inches even further into health. 

Watch this: What AirPods Rumors Tell Us About Apple's Health Ambitions

In this week's episode of One More Thing (embedded above), I take a look at all the rumors about the upcoming AirPods, including a potential hearing aid mode that may launch with iOS 18. In the future, maybe AirPods could integrate even more sensors such as an EEG for detecting brain activity. Apple filed a patent in 2023 that shows such a sensor embedded in earbuds.

A few years ago, there were rumors of the AirPods Pro getting a heart rate and body temperature sensor. That hasn't manifested yet, but other earbuds like the recently released Sennheiser Momentum Sport already do this. It's genuinely helpful to have all this data consolidated in your workout app and not have to wear both a watch and earbuds when you're working out.

There's big potential for AirPods to further Apple's health ambitions, especially because the earbuds are one of the most inexpensive entry points into Apple's wearable line. Even if these patents never make their way to a finished product, I like how Apple is exploring ways to amp up its wearables from being entertainment and second-screen devices to fully-fledged health tools.