‘Made-for-Android’ hearing aids

 

android v apple hearing aids

Pay attention – this section may get confusing!

When we talk about made-for-iPhone or made-for-Android hearing aids we specifically refer to the ability to stream audio (i.e. phonecalls) direct to your hearing aids.

Different technology approaches were developed for various reasons.

SOME HISTORY FIRST
iPhone compatible hearing aids arrived first – WHY? – The bottom line is that Apple have a simpler single-layer platform to work with, and they collaborated with hearing aid manufacturers much earlier and developed a commanding and competitive lead which became the industry standard – the Made-for-iPhone (MFi) protocol.
(At this point it is important to realise that prior to late-2019  MFi hearing aids could connect to Android devices – but only for remote control purpose; NOT for direct audio streaming. If you wanted to stream audio from Android phones you needed to do so via a hearing aid streaming accessory – normally a neckloop worn accessory).
Then came ‘Made-for-ALL’ hearing aids

Phonak, and their sister company Unitron, took a different approach and decided not to focus on iPhone and/or Android specifically, but to focus direct audio connectivity for ALL mobile phones to their hearing aids – thus capturing the whole mobile phone market (after all, Apple only has about 15% of the global mobile phone market share).

MF-ALL hearing aids arrived in 2018 and were designed to connect to almost any Bluetooth enabled phone by using the older ‘Classic Bluetooth’ technology (rather than low energy Bluetooth (BLE) in MFi hearing aids) – the downside of this was that you could only connect one hearing aid in the Bluetooth menu – so their first MF-ALL hearing aids could only stream audio direct to one hearing aid.
True made-for-all hearing aids arrived in 2019
In 2019 Phonak and Unitron launched hearing aids (Phonak Marvel / Unitron Discover) which further incorporated inter-ear audio transmission – so one hearing aid connects to the phone in Bluetooth settings and that hearing aid uses rapid data streaming to send it to the second hearing aid – thus direct binaural audio streaming was available for ALL mobiles phones.
Then came ‘Made-for-Android’
Those companies who had developed MFi hearing aids quickly needed an Android direct streaming protocol that allowed their MFi hearing aids to also stream direct Audio from Android phones – this allowed a large enough share of the global ‘smart’ phone market.
In 2019 Resound and Starkey led the way by launching hearing aids that adopt a specific ‘made for Android’ protocol using the same BLE / low energy Bluetooth(v2) technology – BUT this technology only works on newly launched Android phones that use the Android-10 operating system (or later) – the first phones available were Google Pixel 3 and 4, but more are becoming compatible.
These hearing aids use a dedicated protocol for iPhone and Android have dual radio streaming. They are MFA and MFI.
Other brands who make MFi hearing aids will catch up on this soon. Phonak and Unitron will likely follow their path of direct connection to all Bluetooth phones using classic Bluetooth.
Android and iphone hearing aids

Made-for-ALL

Phonak and Unitron have both launched MFA  ‘made-for-all-phone’ hearing aids

Direct Mobile Phone Call Streaming

As mentioned the first key benefit is direct audio streaming – this means streaming audio from your mobile device to both of your hearing aids. This can include phone calls, music, and apps like Google Maps.

INTERESTING FACTS – for people with severe to profound hearing loss:

  • Streamed phone-calls to both ears improves phone call listening by an average of 50% in speech recognition tests
  • If you stream video phone-calls (i.e. Face-time) this increases to approximately 70% improvement.

Hands-free phone calls – the extra advantage of Phonak and Unitron’s ‘Made-for-ALL’ hearing aids though is that you can make hands-free phone calls – you do this by 1. answering phone-calls by pressing the button on the hearing aids; and 2. the hearing aid microphones pick up and transmit your voice to the caller – true hands-free calling. (not available in MFi and Made-for-Android hearing aids).

Direct TV Streaming

You can receive high definition stereo streaming from your TV direct to your hearing aids (you do require a TV adaptor but it plugs into your TV – not an accessory you wear or hold near you).

Made for ALL hearing aids may well connect to Bluetooth TV’s but you may get audio lag – if you use their TV streaming accessory you will not get audio lag (i.e. the lips move before you hear the speech).

Multiple Apple Device Streaming

Ironically it is the Made-for-ALL hearing aids that allow you to connect to two Apple devices simultaneously – i.e. an iPhone and an iMac.

Remote control

Via the dedicated phone App for the hearing aid you can now control your hearing aids without the need for a separate remote control.

Having more control allows you to fine tune your hearing aids in different environments to suit your needs.

The key functions may change between the different manufacturers.

Remote control functionality may include:

  • Volume control
  • Mute function
  • Home function – to reset any changes back to default
  • Programme change – for different environments
  • Changing directional focus for noisy environments – left, right, back, front
  • Controlling wind noise and general noise
  • Changing the frequency response

With some hearing aids you can save preferred settings.

You can geo-locate programme settings to automatically switch on when you arrive at a frequent place. Check out this short video on Starkey Soundpsace – it is so easy to use!

Starkey Livio AI Features

STARKEY LIVIO AI features via their THRIVE App

ALSO:

FIND YOUR LOST HEARING AIDS! – You can locate lost hearing aids using the built in hearing aid locator

REMOTE FINE-TUNING – We can adjust your hearing aids remotely. This is a great way of tweaking the settings on initial set up to make sure you get the very best set-up, without repeated trips to see us. It also means we can supply hearing aids, at our prices, to clients travelling greater distances.

FIRMWARE UPDATES – Resound hearing aids only at present – keep your hearing aids up to date with live updates via the dedicated app.

LIVE LANGUAGE TRANSLATION – You can use google translate to decipher what a foreigner is saying, direct in your ears. We have no idea how you reply though!

LIVE CALL-TO-TEXT – Converts your calls to text as they speak so you can follow calls better – a boo for those with severe to profound hearing loss.

FALL DETECTION AND ALERTS – Sensors in the hearing aids can detect if you fall over and automatically trigger an alert in the app to notify family members.

FITNESS TRACKING AND WELL BEING – Using sensors in the hearing aids you can keep track of your health and well being with visual analytics.

REMINDER ALERTS – You can set all sorts of reminders in the app to play audio alerts in your hearing aids.

Car Bluetooth Streaming

Your hearing aids will be connected to your phone – this means when you get in your car the car Bluetooth will not automatically connect to your phone. You would need to disconnect the hearing aids in Bluetooth settings and connect your car, and vice versa on exit of the car; or, use your hearing aid connections and clip or stick your phone to your dashboard vents so that it is practical.

Made-for-All and Made-for-Android hearing aids are available as medium sized receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids (including a rechargeable option).

Made for Android specifically are available in 4 custom in-ear sizes s as per the left image (CIC, ITC, full-shell, and remote microphone (Resound only)).

In 2019 ReSound launched completely-in-canal MFi hearing aids – the downside of these is that they have a somewhat ugly antenna loop sticking out of the hearing aid – you can see this in the right image, if you look just above the battery door compartment.

Made for iPhone  >   Made for Android   >   Made for ALL MOBILE PHONES!!!

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