June 09, 2018

Turn Apple AirPods Into Hearing Aids with iOS12 using iPhone

AirPods available on Amazon
Given how pervasive iPhones and AirPods are, Apple has taken a committed step to helping those who have difficulty with hearing things clearly. With its new upcoming iOS12 software update later this year, individuals who own both an iPhone and AirPods will be able to turn the AirPods into a hearing amplification device through its new Live Listen feature.

Please note that the title of this blog article is a bit of a misnomer. Technically, this would not be a hearing aid, but an amplification device which would not fall under a medical device category (like a hearing aid would). Many companies already sell over-the-counter hearing amplifiers.

This feature will not simply be an add-on app. It will be built into the operating system itself accessible through the front screen (same screen to quickly turn WiFi on/off or change to Airplane mode). It basically turns your iPhone (or iPad) into a remote microphone that then sends sounds directly to the AirPods.

Live Listen is already available thru the Accessibility settings for use with prescription hearing aids.  In case you did not know, the technology to control the AirPods in this manner is the same technology used to currently connect to actual prescription hearing aids. Called "Made for iPhone" (MFi), compatible hearing aids are made by the biggest in the business including Widex, Oticon, Beltone, Starkey, etc. Keep in mind that not all hearing aid models made by these companies would be iPhone compatible.

 A list of iPhone compatible hearing aids can be found here.

To see how connecting the iPhone and hearing aids (and soon AirPods) work to help the user, click here.

But to quickly summarize, the user can quickly access the features and settings of the paired hearing device by triple-clicking the Home button. Glance at the hearing aid battery status, change the left and right volume together or separately; quickly apply your environmental presets as you go outdoors or enter noisy locations, like restaurants, without having to rely on additional remotes; play ringtones and even music directly to the hearing aid, etc.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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