A new feature allows the company's AirPods Pro headphones to be programmed with a user's unique audiogram, as reported by Med City News. Granted, it's not exactly a replacement for hearing aids, instead allowing the AirPods to function as sort of pseudo personal sound amplification devices (PSAPs). 

You'd be forgiven for shrugging your shoulders at this. After all, most modern hearing aids come equipped with Bluetooth functionality. As a result, they can connect to smartphones just like a regular headset, effectively rendering Apple's move somewhat pointless — at least at first glance. 

If Apple plays its cards right and other manufacturers begin to follow suit, this could be the start of something huge. 

First and foremost, the AirPods Pro doesn't just offer sound amplification but also automatic noise cancellation. This means the headphones effectively serve as protective devices against traumatic levels of noise. Coupled with the fact that Apple will now provide information on audio levels and hearing health in its health checklist, this could go a long way towards reducing the prevalence of noise-related hearing loss. 
Second is that most hearing aids don't offer anything in the way of protection against noise. Even as advanced as they've gotten, they remain sound amplification devices first and foremost. Apple has demonstrated that there's another way; in so doing, perhaps it will spur the hearing aid market to do better.
Third, although Apple's AirPods Pro pale in overall functionality compared to modern hearing aids, this may not always be the case. Remember when smartphones were exclusively the domain of high-powered business people like lawyers and financiers. Recall how basic the first consumer cell phone was, and look at how far the technology has come today. 
Finally, Apple has worked accessibility for the hard of hearing directly into its products. Given the rarity of that sort of thing, this may be the most significant factor of all. Apple has long been something of a trendsetter in the smartphone space, and where it goes, other manufacturers tend to follow. 

In other words, by making iOS 14 more accessible, Apple may well have kicked off a new trend in consumer tech, one which will see hearing assistance considered by default. 

Granted, it's too early to tell at this point if any of what we've discussed here will actually happen, just as we can't predict whether Apple will truly disrupt the hearing aid market. Even so, it's a massive step in the right direction. And perhaps, if the stars align, it could be the beginning of a better, more accessible world.