Recently, Apple announced the imminent arrival of its new iOS 12 operating system, which they plan to release in the fall. With iOS 12, Apple’s AirPods can use their “Live Listen” assistive hearing technology to turn the AirPods into an amplification device. The “Live Listen” feature has been available since 2014 on compatible Made For iPhone (MFi) hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Slated for a 2019 release, the earbuds will likely cost more than the existing $159 pair. By offering models varying in technological sophistication and price, this could enable Apple to segment their earbud product line like it does with iPhones,.
AirPods as Hearing Aids? Health Monitors?
On June 25th, Apple released a beta version of the iOS 12 operating system that allows AirPods to take advantage of the Live Listen hearing assistance feature.
To turn the AirPods into an amplification device using the beta version of iOS 12, pair the AirPods through Bluetooth to the iOS 12 device. Then, in Settings go to Control Center, tap Customize Controls and then Hearing. After placing the AirPods in your ears, bring up Control Center on your phone, tap Hearing and then tap Live Listen.
Tech writer, Edward Baig of USA Today recently highlighted his experience using iOS 12 and converting his AirPods into hearing assistance devices–you can read about his experience here.
Apple has also internally discussed adding biometric sensors to future AirPods, like a heart-rate monitor, to expand its health-related hardware offerings beyond the Apple Watch, according to a Bloomberg News report. Accessories have become an important revenue generator for Apple in recent years, as their Other Product division generated sales of $12.9 billion in the 2017 fiscal year, which cushioned a slowdown in iPhone unit growth.
*feature image courtesy flckr