As reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is developing new features for its AirPods Pro, including a built-in temperature sensor and the ability to test hearing. The ability to measure temperature recently appeared in the Apple Watch Series 8 and Watch Ultra watches, but the sensor in the earbuds can provide more accurate data than measurements on the wrist.
A hearing test feature would allow the AirPods to run an audiogram, a profile that iOS can use to adjust the earbuds’ power to compensate for hearing loss. Such profiles can now be created by third-party applications such as Mimi. If Apple implements its own test, it would be another example of the company borrowing software originally created by third-party developers.
In addition to these features, Apple is also considering selling the AirPods Pro as a hearing aid. This follows the FDA’s decision last year to streamline the process for Americans to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids. Gurman reports that Apple recently hired engineers with experience working with traditional hearing aids to support the initiative.
However, Gurman cautions that these features are likely to be months or even years away. In the near future, Apple plans to update AirPods Pro with a charging case with a USB-C connector as part of the company’s compliance with the new common EU charging standard. Despite this move to USB-C, Gurman doesn’t expect an all-new AirPods Pro hardware launch anytime soon, considering the company only updated the earbuds last year.
In addition to these hardware updates, Apple announced new software features for AirPods that will be introduced in iOS 17. They will include a new button press to mute calls and improve switching between devices. Gurman also suggests that Apple may permanently drop the price of the second-generation AirPods from $129 to $99 to more effectively compete with cheaper fully wireless options from Samsung and Sony.