Apple is often at the forefront of new technology, and hearing technology is no exception but can you use Apple AirPods as hearing aids? The popular wireless headphones that fit in your ears and last for 24 hours are a big hit with consumers, despite the $159 price tag. In addition to playing music, you can use Siri via the AirPods without ever touching your phone.

According to TechCrunch, Apple’s latest addition to the AirPods is Live Listen, a technology that has actually been installed on Apple-certified hearing aids since 2014. So how will this technology affect hearing aid users in the future?

Apple AirPods as Hearing Aids? 

Now that Apple is installing Live Listen into AirPods, can they be used as a replacement for hearing aids? Apple says no, AirPods cannot take the place of traditional hearing aids. Although Live Listen may help users hear sounds more clearly, people with moderate to severe hearing loss will probably not benefit much from it.

AirPods with Live Listen can assist people with very mild hearing loss.  However, AirPods are not as subtle as hearing aids—they are white and stick out of one’s ears. It’s now common to see people with bulkier headphones and earbuds commuting or working out. Time will tell if it will become the norm to see groups of people wearing Airpod-like devices conversing over a meal.

How the Live Listen Feature Works with Hearing Aids

Live Listen is one of Apple’s most important accessibility functions. It allows users to stream live audio from an iPhone’s microphone directly into their hearing aids. Live Listen uses Bluetooth technology to deliver clearer sound to listeners, allowing people to take phone calls and listen to music or watch videos much more easily.

Currently, Live Listen is only available with “Made for iPhone” hearing aids“. However, with the addition of Live Listen in Apple AirPods, millions of people are about to have access to this new technology.

Live Listen in Noisy Enviroments

With their newest operating system, iOS 12, iPhone users will be able to connect Live Listen to their AirPods. Listeners will be able to adjust the volume and sound for whatever environment they’re in. For instance, one of the most popular Live Listen settings is “Restaurant,” which filters out background noise and allows people to hear a conversation at their table more easily.

Live Listen users can also place their iPhone close to sound sources, such as a TV, and use the function to hear sounds more loudly and distinctly. Live Listen also allows users to easily control the volume of your hearing aids via your iPhone, so users can adjust accordingly based on the environment.

In noisy environments, users can also simply place their iPhone closer to a sound source, such as another person speaking, and be able to hear better.

By: Elena McPhillips