Apple’s AirPods might one day become much more than just a way to listen to your favorite tune while drowning out the noise in a Starbucks. In the latest edition of his “Power On” newsletter (via MacRumors), Apple expert Mark Gurman claims Apple is looking into turning AirPods into a health tool “in the next year or two.”The AirPods could then have “the ability to get hearing data of some sort,” said Gurman. While this is as low on details as it can possibly be, it does make sense, given that Apple has been building health-related features into its other wearable, the Apple Watch, which can monitor a user’s heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and even check for irregular hearth rhythm. Gurman’s prediction echoes that of Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said in 2021 that Apple is looking to add health management functionality to the AirPods.
As for what this functionality might look like, we can get some clues from Apple patents. One of them, originally granted back in 2014, describes adding body temperature, heart rate, and perspiration level sensors into the AirPods. And it’s also fairly easy to imagine AirPods becoming a hearing aid of sorts; the AirPods already have a feature called Conversation Boost that helps you distinguish someone’s speech from background noise.