Pros and Cons of Apple’s Conversation Boost

Published December 28, 2023

Apple’s AirPods have a new accessibility feature — Conversation Boost. It promises to make it easier to hear people’s voices in conversation in a crowded, noisy room. Sounds like a perfect solution to a common problem, right? After all, hearing aids can only do so much and even for people without a hearing disability, conversations in a loud location like a restaurant are difficult. 

But does this feature work? How well does it work? Are there any downsides? Let’s look at Conversation Boost and see what the pros — and cons — of this accessibility feature are.

How to turn it on

Conversation Boost is an easily customizable feature. When your AirPods are connected to your phone, go to the accessibility menu, choose Audio/Visual, and then turn on 'Headphone Accommodations.' Turn on Custom Transparency Mode, then turn on Conversation Boost. You can further customize your settings by following these instructions

Does it work?

Yes. In an official study, the Hearing Review concluded that Conversation Boost is an effective feature. It works to reduce background noise and amplify close-by conversations and has “the potential to help some people with hearing loss understand and communicate during conversations.” Though its efficacy ultimately depends on the environment and the user, ‌Conversation Boost is a useful and usable accessibility feature.


There are several pros to this feature. The first pro is the feature itself — ‌hearing in a crowded, noisy environment is common, and Conversation Boost offers a way around the issue. Simply slip in your AirPods and viola! You can follow the conversation of the surrounding people without struggling. 

AirPods are relatively affordable when compared to the cost of a hearing aid. Hearing aids can run in the thousands of dollars and can often be difficult to use and may not work well for everyone. Most people have used in-ear headphones at least once before. AirPods are shaped like those.

There may be less of a stigma associated with using AirPods for help with hearing rather than a hearing aid. Many people choose to struggle to hear rather than seek a hearing aid simply because they don’t want to be perceived differently. Having an option to use a headphone-like device that doesn’t stand out as much may mean more people with hearing disabilities will choose to use it. 


The feature doesn’t come without cons. The first is access: this feature is only available to iPhone users. That means people with Androids, even if they have AirPods, cannot use it. Apple products are notoriously more expensive than their Android counterparts, so even though AirPods themselves are less expensive than hearing aids, the same can’t be said for iPhones. 

Also, even though AirPods are less expensive than hearing aids, the models that work with Conversation Boost aren’t exactly cheap. The price point might still be prohibitive for some people to use this feature, which blocks access to some that may need it. While insurance may partially cover hearing aids, AirPods certainly are not. 

AirPods may lessen the stigma of wearing a hearing aid, but it’s still awkward to have something in your ear when talking to people, especially if they are unaware that you have a hearing disability. There’s a perception you are ignoring them, which may make people feel slighted. Or, you may feel pressured to “out” your disability to make sure they don’t think you’re being rude. The use of headphones over hearing aids is not a perfect solution.


Apple’s Conversation Boost is an accessibility feature that promises to amplify the conversations of those around you so you aren’t struggling to hear in a noisy environment. Its pros include reducing stigma and price, and its cons include awkwardness of use. Ultimately, it depends on the user whether this feature will be helpful to them as a person with a hearing disability. However, Conversation Boost seems like a good step that Apple has taken regarding accessibility. 


Accessibility Services for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses - Free Online Event!

Join us on Wednesday, May 1st, at 1 PM ET for a free online event to explore how to evaluate and select accessibility services for your small to medium-sized business. Click here to learn more about this event and to register.

Click here to see our Events Calendar.'s 2024 events will utilize the Zoom Events platform, offering a virtual expo hall for attendees to meet with prospective vendors. If your company is interested in being part of the expo hall, don't hesitate to get in touch with

Vendor Directory offers the premier impartial listing of digital accessibility vendors.  Search for products and services by category, subcategory, or company name.  Check out our new Vendor Directory here.