Dealing with hearing loss often follows a set course—realize you are struggling to hear, visit your local hearing clinic for a hearing evaluation, and receive hearing aids. The problems start when it comes to the hearing aids part of this equation.
For one thing, hearing aids can be expensive, as they are sophisticated hearing devices. Also, some individuals feel embarrassed to wear hearing aids, as these devices have been stigmatized as being “only for old people.” But in reality, using hearing aids can be incredibly freeing, giving people back their connection with others, the ability to navigate, and more.
However, as long as the stigma against hearing aids exists, people will search for other options. One option that is gaining popularity is using AirPods vs. using hearing aids. But whether AirPods are a viable alternative to using hearing aids is unlikely with their current drawbacks.
AirPods Live Listen And Future Hearing Assistance Updates
One of the features that encourage individuals to feel like AirPods can replace hearing aids is the Live Listen mode. By turning on the Live Listen feature, the user can use their connected smartphone as a remote microphone and stream sound directly to their AirPods.
That feature can be particularly helpful in noisy areas, such as restaurants, as the AirPods can be used to help cut down on background sounds. However, the microphone amplification feature isn’t as advanced as hearing aids, as it amplifies all sounds that reach the smartphone mic, not just nearby speech. Also, as it works currently, environmental sounds are mostly blocked out, whether you want that or not.
However, in the upcoming iOS 14 feature preview, it was unveiled that Apple looks to balance the speech amplification without sacrificing environmental sound awareness. In part of their update statement, Apple said that AirPods Pro would have a Transparency mode, which will help with speech amplification while also allowing in environmental sounds. To help personalize the user’s hearing experience, a hearing screener app will be used and connected with your AirPods Pro sound profile, allowing for a customized experience.
If Apple is able to accomplish these things, then AirPods Pro may be able to help with mild hearing loss. The problem is, we don’t know if the implementation will be a success as well as other potential drawbacks.
Drawbacks To Relying On AirPods vs. Using Hearing Aids
Hearing aids don’t just make sounds louder. Modern digital hearing aids are tiny supercomputers that take in the sounds from the world around you, process the sounds, amplify or quiet the sound, then send it on to you. All of this process is completed quickly, which AirPods can’t currently do, as users notice an obvious lag between what is said and what they hear.
Other potential drawbacks to relying on AirPods vs. hearing aids are:
Hearing Aids Are Still Needed For Hearing Loss
At this time, we would not recommend using AirPods instead of hearing aids, as they have yet to produce a viable hearing aid-like product. However, we are excited to keep an eye on the development of over-the-counter hearing aid products, especially if they are as accessible and compatible as AirPods.
In the meantime, to take care of your hearing aids or address your hearing-related concerns, you can always contact us to work with one of our experienced hearing health care professionals.