According to a recent report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, certain models of Apple’s AirPods will soon be equipped with a new hearing health feature. Supported by iOS 17, this feature will allow users to check themselves for potential hearing issues. The AirPods will also have the capability to determine body temperature through the ear canal. Gurman shared this information in today’s Power On newsletter. He also mentioned that all of Apple’s upcoming headphones will have USB-C compatibility. However, he believes that new hardware releases are not imminent.
Currently, AirPods already support audiograms, which are audio profiles that help the AirPods adjust to the user’s hearing abilities. To generate an audiogram, users can use the app Mimi. Apple plans to introduce a built-in hearing test feature, essentially incorporating the functionality of Mimi into its operating system. It’s worth noting that other wireless earbuds, such as the Jabra Elite 75t and the Nothing Ear 2, already offer similar hearing test capabilities.
Furthermore, Gurman revealed that Apple is exploring the idea of positioning AirPods as hearing aids. This comes after the FDA approved over-the-counter sales of hearing aids without a prescription.
Potential Temperature Tracking with AirPods
In addition to the hearing health feature, Gurman mentioned rumors that future AirPods could have the ability to measure body temperature through the ear canal. Similar functionality was introduced in the Apple Watch Series 8 last year, although it only provided relative temperature measurements for menstrual cycle tracking. Gurman believes that expanding temperature tracking to the AirPods could offer more accuracy, enabling Apple to better inform wearers if they are becoming ill. It remains unclear whether this feature will be exclusive to the AirPods Pro, but it seems likely.
Unfortunately, Gurman’s Power On newsletter also delivered some disappointing news. The updated AirPods Pro, featuring the new health features, may not be available anytime soon. Gurman suggests that these features could be “several months or even years away.” Additionally, while USB-C AirPods may be on the horizon, AirPods Pro themselves typically follow a three-year refresh cycle. Although this is based on a limited sample size, the fact that the second-generation AirPods Pro were released just last year does not bode well for a new iteration this year.
On the other hand, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that a USB-C version of the AirPods Pro will be released later this year, possibly in the second or third quarter. Kuo also stated that Apple does not seem to have plans for new versions of the original AirPods or the bulkier AirPods 3. It is possible that the new hardware release may only involve a new charging case with an updated port, similar to when Apple introduced the standalone MagSafe case for the AirPods Pro in 2021. Kuo further predicted that $99 AirPods and a new set of AirPods Max could be expected in the near future, potentially as early as next year.
Apple’s AirPods are set to receive a new hearing health feature and the potential ability to track body temperature. While these advancements are exciting, they may not be available in the immediate future. Nevertheless, Apple continues to explore ways to enhance its popular wireless earbuds, positioning them as more than just audio accessories.