Woman with AirPods

With the release of Apple’s of iOS 14 last September, the tech company added a feature to take your AirPods and give them hearing aid features, but how well do these OTC “hearing aids” stack up against the real deal?

This new feature is compatible with more than just the AirPods; it also works with many Apple’s “affiliated” devices, including AirPods pro and max, Beats Studio 3, and Beats Solo Pro. Any other headphones you venture to access the custom audio setup feature will give you a notification stating “Headphone Not Supported.”

What do the iPhone Headphone Accommodations do?

“Amplify soft sounds and adjust certain sound frequencies based on your individual hearing needs. If you already have an audiogram, you can add it to your settings. If not, you’ll walk through a series of listening tests that allow you to set up as many as nine unique profiles based on your personal sound preferences.” – https://www.apple.com/accessibility/hearing/

Let’s break down what this feature will do for you. Will it instantly turn your AirPod Pro headphones into full-blown hearing aids. The short answer is NO. The FDA requires approval for a device to be considered a hearing aid. Meaning, to obtain actual hearing aids, you need to go through a licensed audiologist and receive a prescription. Things may change down the road, but no OTC hearing aids are FDA approved for now.

However, what this will do for you when using your AirPods pro is offer you some essential hearing assistance. For instance, the app will navigate you through a short hearing evaluation. It will create a custom hearing profile that the user can turn on and off based on your answers.

Sleek Design hearing aid

How about Live Listen?

Aside from increasing specific frequencies to help better hear, Apple has also added the “Live Listen” feature. “Live Listen,” allows users to turn their phone into a remote microphone to help better hear in noisy environments. Turn the feature on and aim your phone toward the people with whom you’re speaking. Live listen uses the phone’s microphone to pick up what they are saying more clearly.

Will AirPods Double as hearing aids?

These new features are a great addition to Apple’s quiver of accessibility features and give apple users some greater functionality. But, AirPods and other Apple-approved headphones do not meet the requirements of an actual hearing aid. It would be better to compare devices like the IQbuds, Eargo Neo, and other OTC Wearable devices.

Finding a good audiologist

Disadvantages to using Airpods VS. Using hearing aids

Hearing aids do not only amplify sound brought into the ear. With today’s hearing aids and advanced technology, modern hearing aids are miniature supercomputers that will take in all of the sounds in your surroundings and increase specific frequencies while decreasing others with very little lag time, unlike AirPods, with known latency issues.

Other potential drawbacks to depending on Airpods Vs. hearing aids include:

  • Very little personalization of hearing loss – At best, “AirPods” will help those with very minimum hearing loss. And although you can input audiogram results, it will not give you nearly the same degree of adjustments that a primary hearing screening or, even more, a real ear measurement will allow for.
  • Shortened battery life – AirPods have a battery life of around 4-5 hours, with several additional charges available via the case. Today’s hearing aids will give you about 12-16 hours or more based on the degree of hearing loss and the power needed to amplify.
  • High sound occlusion – Many AirPod users love their earbuds because it helps block out much of the background noise. However, if you were them for long periods to communicate with others, high levels of sound occlusion are not ideal. Hearing aids are built to give you the ability to hear better in your environment and have a more natural hearing experience.

You still need hearing aids for hearing loss

Although the features of using AirPods for hearing aids are convenient, they do not replace the need for hearing aids if you suffer from hearing loss. Should you be considering using your AirPods as hearing aids or currently using them. We suggest having a standard hearing test completed to determine your potential degree of hearing loss.

Call and speak with a professional Audiologist and find out how hearing aids can help you experience more from life. Salem Audiology Clinic has been in business for over 35 years, helping those in and around our local community take back their hearing and regain what they’ve been missing.

Call us today at (503) 877-1684