Apple will reportedly add support for AirPods Live Listen with the iOS 12, according to TechCrunch. The feature was first unveiled in 2014 and was restricted to the hearing aids under Apple’s Made for iPhone hearing aid program. Live Listen helps users with the need for hearing aids to hear other people in noisy environments or from another room.
With the Live Listen support, AirPods have added functionality and more appeal. The device is already touted as one of Apple’s best products in years. Live Listen allows users to use their phones as a directional mic. This way AirPods Live Listen would be better able to filter straight to the person’s voice they want to hear, and travel right to the ears of the users if they are in a crowded place.
Having the Live Listen feature in the AirPods would also mean that anyone with limited hearing ability would not have to buy any extra pair of aids if they already own AirPods. On the pricing front also, AirPods might be an affordable choice at $159, compared to hearing aids that quote a much higher price.
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However, AirPods cannot be a complete alternative to an hearing aid because the latter is specifically designed to stoke up certain frequencies which that particular wearer has trouble hearing. On the other hand, AirPods Live Listen feature can merely offer ambient sound at a higher volume to help the users with certain auditory issues.
Apple AirPods have covered a great distance since their launch in 2016. The earbuds offer one-touch access to the Siri virtual assistant, which in turn can access a slew of apps. This capability set the experts to believe that AirPods could be a revolutionary technology. But, two years down the line, the earbuds are still largely used for playing music or making calls.
Support for Live Listen, however, gives a sneak peek into what the future holds for AirPods. The Cupertino, California-based company might take a lesson or two from its rivals. Doppler Labs recently released Here One, a pair of earbuds that could enhance the bass at a concert, to quieting the sound of a crying baby. Further Google Pixel Buds can do real-time language translation.
Despite the impressive tech from the rivals, AirPods are the most popular wireless earbuds. According to the research firm NPD, AirPods owned 85% of the U.S. wireless headphone market in the first half of 2017. Doppler Labs was forced to shut down in 2017 as its cool technologies failed to cope with the hardware market challenges. Pixel Buds could not stir up the competition getting tepid reviews, standing nowhere near to the AirPods.
With almost no direct competition, Apple has all the time to push new features in the AirPods, and Live Listen could be a good example of that. AirPods Live Listen can also be seen as an attempt by the company to reach more people, and push for a gradual transition of AirPods towards an audible computing machine. Who knows, going forward we may see dedicated AirPods apps in the App Store.
Further, there are reports that Apple might be working on a second-generation version of AirPods. The rumors have heated up because the AirPower mat would be compatible with AirPods, suggesting there would be at least a new case that supports wireless charging. Bloomberg notes that in the second-gen AirPods, users would no longer require tapping on the buds to trigger Siri, instead they would just need to say the magic words “hey Siri.” The new feature would be a software update, suggesting it would be available for the existing AirPods as well.
Separately, Apple might have impressed the critics and fans alike during the recent WWDC event, wherein the company unveiled the iOS 12. However, that does not allay the uncertainty looming over the company as far as its new products are concerned. Recently, the Tim Cook-led company has been at the receiving end for its glitchy products.
First, the Home Pod was shipped late and reviews were also not very favorable. Then the new MacBook Pro keyboards suffered from a high failure rate, and the software was filled with bugs. Gene Muster, the former Apple analyst and Loup Ventures Head of Research, believes there have always been things that Apple has found difficult to resolve.
“…I think that there always have been cases of these. It is true that there are more examples, but when you look at it in the context of the company and they’re still getting the big stuff right,” the expert said, according to Business Insider. So, it remains to be seen if Apple would get all things right this time.