In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman says Apple is planning to add hearing health features for the AirPods in the next couple of years. According to the report, to add the “ability to get hearing data of some sort,” Apple is planning to “upgrade the AirPods to become a health tool in the next year or two.”
While the Cupertino firm already offers features such as Live Listen and Conversation Boost, Gurman notes that none of them are FDA-approved, meaning Apple wants to take on these functions “more officially” in the near future.
Apple has been experimenting with a few patents on how it could bring more health features to AirPods, as they could be useful not only for hearing benefits but for checking heart rate, body temperature, and more.
In 2021, Apple’s VP of technology, Kevin Lynch, said to TechCrunch that AirPods could one day provide more health data to customers.
“Perhaps one place to look for even more potential in terms of future health capabilities lies in sensor fusion, however. Walking steadiness is the result of not just the iPhone or the Apple Watch acting independently but of what’s possible when the company can use them in combination. It’s another place where Apple’s tight integration of software and hardware gives it an edge, and it multiplies as Apple’s ecosystem of devices, and the sensors they carry, continues to grow,” he said at the time.
Asked if AirPods could help track more health data, he said that Apple already does sensor fusion across some devices and thinks there are “all kinds of potential here.”
With that in mind, we wouldn’t have to wait for AirPods 4, AirPods Pro 3, or AirPods Max 2 to see new health features, as Apple could enable them with the already-existing sensors the current generations have. More recently, Apple turned on HomePod mini sensors to check room temperature and humidity two years after its release so it could coincide with a new HomePod announcement, meaning the company could do the same with AirPods.