Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly stated his belief that technology should be accessible to everyone. For decades, Apple products have shipped with accessibility features, proof that these values are deeply rooted in the company. Apple even launched a dedicated accessibility website in 2016, showcasing the stories of several individuals and how their lives have benefited from accessible products.
One branch of accessibility that’s received an increasing amount of attention is hearing. While iOS has supported hearing aids in some capacity for years, deep integration with the iPhone first became possible when Apple expanded its Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program to cover hearing devices. Advancements in Bluetooth Low Energy technology in concert with a proprietary audio transmission protocol have been essential in enabling a steady stream of iPhone-compatible hearing aids and cochlear implants to be released.
At the same time, Apple developed an audio product of its own – AirPods. The wireless headphones include advanced low energy technology themselves, powered by the Apple-designed W1 chip. Between the company’s work in both accessibility and audio, Apple finds itself in a unique position to dramatically transform the market of hearing augmentation.