Gurman points out that AirPods already offer a feature called Live Listen, which debuted as part of iOS 12 in 2018. The feature essentially turns an iPhone into a directional microphone, transmitting the audio captured by that iPhone. to AirPods in real time.
In the latest edition of the Power On newsletter, Apple “plans to upgrade AirPods to become a health tool within the next year or two.” Specifically, he said the first features will include “the ability to collect arbitrary hearing data.”
In a 2021 interview, Apple CEO Kevin Lynch acknowledged the health potential of AirPods. “We’ve done sensor fusion on a number of devices now, and I think there’s a lot of potential here,” he said.
It remains to be seen what kind of AirPods health features will eventually appear. Either way, this is clearly an area of focus for Apple that aligns with Tim Cook’s overall goals.