“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” may just be PR for healthy eating, but Apple — the megacorp, not the fruit — appears to have taken it to heart.
According to Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter, the company is all set to expand its health tracking from the wrist with the Apple Watch to the ears with its AirPods.
This is set to happen in two ways, only one of which will require new hardware.
The first is hearing checks. AirPods already allow users to take an audiogram in order to improve the sound quality of the earbuds by checking for auditory weak spots. Now it looks like the company will offer dedicated checks to screen for hearing loss too.
You’d imagine this would be done in the same way that other hearing check apps work: by playing various sounds and tones and asking how well you can hear them. Apps like Mimi — which apparently Apple met a few years ago — are likely living in fear of being Sherlocked.
On a related note, Gurman believes that Apple is also eyeing up the possibility of entering the hearing aid market now that the US Food and Drug Administration has relaxed rules on over-the-counter, prescription-free sales. That might sound like overreach, but AirPods actually do oddly well against dedicated hearing aids.
The second big health improvement won’t be around for “several months or even years” but could be quite significant. Apple is apparently toying with the idea of putting a temperature sensor on AirPods, which could measure how warm your ear canal is.
A similar sensor already exists on both the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra, and is used for fertility tracking. In the ear — where temperature readings are far more reliable — it might give early warning of when you’re getting sick so you can take it easy and cancel all your upcoming appointments on behalf of the upcoming lurgy.
Before then, we can apparently look forward to AirPod charging cases making the shift from Lightning Cable to USB-C along with the rest of Apple’s lineup. Thanks, European Union!