Some AirPods will be gaining a new hearing health feature, supported by iOS 17, that can check yourself for potential hearing issues and may be able to determine your body temperature via your ear canal, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in today’s Power On newsletter. He also says all of Apple’s new headphones will include USB-C, and that the company is planning new AirPods Pro and AirPods Max models — but he doesn’t think new hardware is coming soon.
AirPods already support audiograms — audio profiles that tell the AirPods where your hearing may be weakest so that they can tune themselves to your hearing abilities. Right now, you can generate an audiogram using the app Mimi, which Apple would be Sherlocking — an infamous Apple tendency to fold third-party features and apps into its operating system — with a built-in hearing test feature.
Other wireless earbuds have similar capability built in as well. The Jabra Elite 75t added a feature in 2020 called MySound that creates custom sound profiles after playing a series of tones in each ear and prompting wearers to tap their screen when they hear a noise, and the Nothing Ear 2 launched with its own hearing test and audio profile feature this year.
Gurman says Apple is also exploring positioning the AirPods as hearing aids, now that the FDA has approved over-the-counter sales of hearing aids without a prescription.
Next, Gurman added that future AirPods could take your temperature with your ear canal. Rumors that Apple would do this go as far back as late 2021, and the Apple Watch Series 8 introduced something similar last year, albeit as a relative temperature that’s only really used for menstrual cycle tracking.
Expanding temperature tracking to the AirPods could be more accurate, he says, and would potentially let Apple more accurately tell a wearer if they’re starting to get sick. Gurman didn’t say whether this would be exclusive to the AirPods Pro, but it seems likely.
The bad news from the Power On newsletter is that the updated AirPods Pro might not be coming soon. Gurman believes the new health features are “several months or even years away,” and that although USB-C AirPods may be coming soon, AirPods Pro themselves are so far on a three-year refresh cycle. A sample size of two is hardly enough to say that’s how it will always be, but the fact that the 2nd gen AirPods Pro were released only last year doesn’t bode well for a new pair this year.
Then again, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in March that he expects a USB-C version of the AirPods Pro to come later this year, in the second or third quarter, and that Apple didn’t seem to have plans for either the original AirPods form factor or the more bulbous AirPods 3. It’s possible the new hardware could only be a new case with the updated charging port, similar to what Apple did when it introduced a standalone MagSafe case for the AirPods Pro in 2021.
Kuo also predicted in January that $99 AirPods and a new set of AirPods Max will come soon, as early as next year.
Update July 2nd, 2023 9:15AM ET: Added that other earbuds have hearing test features, such as the Jabra Elite 75t and the Nothing Ear 2.