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2018 Guide - updated

Hearing Loss and Hearing Solutions - A Guide

The latest version of our Hearing Loss and Hearing Resources Guide

 
 
 

Nov 2018 Tech.Co

iphbone

More than 1 in 7 Americans live with some degree of hearing loss or impairment. While the issue may affect more people than you’d think, fortunately, technology has been able to keep up. Every year, developers generate new ways to help those hard of hearing, and keep them immersed in everyday sounds. Mobile phones have always been a great way of delivering technology, and with iPhones capturing 26% of the market, it’s no surprise that Apple’s App Store is home to a number of apps which complement selected hearing aids. Some of these iPhone hearing aid apps even promise to assist your hearing capabilities without the need for a hearing aid at all.

This article will look into the iPhone hearing aid apps that are currently available, examine their limitations, and most importantly, determine how these apps can enhance your quality of life.

iphone2An iPhone hearing aid app works by connecting with your Bluetooth enabled hearing aid. It’s now standard practice for manufacturers to produce hearing aids which come with an associated iPhone hearing aid app. Some of these will require an intermediary device, known as a streamer, to realise the full benefits of connecting the app to the hearing aid. However, since 2014, we have seen a whole new breed of hearing aids that are tagged as “Made For iPhone.” These Made For iPhone hearing aids can connect directly to iPhone hearing aid apps without a streamer, integrating smoothly with the iOS software. Whether made for iPhone or not, hearing aid apps will share some common features, such as the ability to control volume settings, customise hearing aid programs, and use the hearing aid as an earphone for making and receiving calls. Meanwhile, other features – such as geotagging, hearing trackers, and remote assistance from hearing specialists – are limited to specific devices. 

 

Best iPhone Hearing Aid Apps
In today’s market, all major hearing aid manufacturers will offer an iPhone hearing aid app to accompany their physical product. Some apps, such as TruLink Hearing Control, can function with multiple hearing aid brands; in other cases, a manufacturer may have multiple apps designed for different models and types of hearing aids. In an ideal world, the hearing aid you end up purchasing will be the one which best meets your needs. The perfect hearing aid for you will depend primarily on factors such as the listening environments you regularly find yourself in, and the advice you receive from a professional. However, the additional features an iPhone hearing aid app can offer you may also be a deciding factor. Below, we’ve brought together six of the most popular apps available for you to consider.

trulink hearing controlTruLink Hearing Control
Average Rating:  2/5 (220 ratings)

Built by Starkey, the TruLink app is compatible with Made For iPhone hearing aids from manufacturers including Starkey, Audible and NuEar. As well as Volume and  Treble/Bass adjustment, TruLink also lets users:

  • Find a lost hearing aid 
  • Stream calls and music direct from an iPhone to the hearing aid 
  • Have Siri read emails and messages direct to the hearing aid 
  • Save multiple program settings as ‘memories’ Use geotagging

One of the best features of TruLink Hearing Control is that it automatically switches between stored settings based on your location, so you won’t have to manually change your settings when you leave home and head to a busy café (or vice versa). However, this feature can be a drain on the battery. There have also been a few complaints about one or both of the hearing aids losing connection with the app, although this seems to have been resolved following iOS updates.

 

resound smart 3dResound Smart 3D
Average Rating: 2.9/5 (255 ratings)

ReSound Smart 3D™ is compatible with ReSound LiNX Quattro, LiNX 3D, and ENZO 3D hearing aids. ReSound also offers a number of other apps, such as the Smart app – which is compatible with older models of ReSound LiNX – and a ReSound Tinnitus Relief app.

The Smart 3D has a user-friendly interface supported by an excellent tutorial, and allows users to adjust the volume in their ears via the app. Key features include:

  • Adjustable speech focus and wind-noise levels with Sound Enhancer
  • Find a lost hearing aid
  • Save multiple program settings as ‘favorites’
  • Geotagging
  • Tinnitus manager
  • Remote assistance from hearing professional

Another great feature permits your hearing care professional to remotely adjust your hearing aid’s settings, or even update the software when required.

oticon ON

Oticon ON
Average Rating: 2.9/5 (180 ratings)

Alongside the basic features it shares with other iPhone hearing aid apps, Oticon ON boasts its own unique selling point: it can connect to the ‘Internet of Things’ using the IFTTT web service. This opens up a world of possibilities when considering the number of household items that could potentially be connected to the hearing aid. Its other features include:

  • Hearing Fitness tracker for monitoring hearing over time
  • Find a lost hearing aid
  • IFTTT channel
  • Geotagging
  • Tinnitus manager
  • Streaming music and calls from the iPhone

Despite the company’s forward thinking nature, Oticon ON’s customisation settings are limited, leaving many users wanting more freedom. Make sure you enjoy the fundamental functionality of Oticon ON before making it your go-to hearing aid app.

 

 

phonak remotePhonak Remote
Average Rating: 3.0/5 (21 ratings)

Phonak was slow to introduce features which allowed direct connectivity to iPhones, but its latest hearing aid models (and associated hearing aid app) are now up to speed. Key features include:

  • Streaming music and calls from the iPhone
  • TV Streamer allows streaming audio from TV
  • Customisable program settings
  • Adjust left and right volumes independently

Admittedly, the app is a bit basic in its features, but will allow a pair of hearing aids to have independent volume control and program selection. This kind of customisability is helpful if you’re trying to get the hang of your hearing aids on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

 

widex beyond

Widex Beyond
Average Rating: 2.5/5 (101 ratings)

The Widex Beyond iPhone hearing aid app promises to keep hearing aid wearers seamlessly connected, streaming high quality sound whenever possible. There are also a number of helpful video tutorials provided by Widex that will make using the app a lot easier with your health tech device. Some of its key features include:

  • Microphone directionality control
  • Automatic program selection based on geotagged locations
  • Fully customisable interface
  • Find a lost hearing aid

Additionally, Widex provides another app that can help with tinnitus management. Dubbed the Widex Zen app, you’ll be able to listen to calming sounds that will help drown out the excessive noise. Plus, with a few educational tools, you’ll be on your way to managing tinnitus in a snap.

 

 

 

 

miracleear.mecontrol 3Miracle Ear MEControl
Average Rating: 3.6/5(115 ratings)

Compatible with the Genius 3.0 range of hearing aids (both RIC and BTE), MEControl is capable of collecting data on your sound exposure levels throughout the day. Your hearing care professional can then use this detailed information to fine tune the settings on your hearing aid.  Additional features include:

  • Customisable programs
  • Sound exposure monitor
  • Remote microphone
  • Switch between multiple audio devices with GENIUSLink audio strea

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative iPhone Apps to Aid Hearing
Together, a hearing aid and an iPhone hearing aid app provide the best solution to varying degrees of hearing loss. However, there are some apps out there which attempt to do the same thing without the need of a hearing aid. These apps use features of the iPhone to detect and amplify sound, effectively turning your iPhone into a personal sound boosting device. Examples of such apps include:

petralexPetralex: Once installed and following a quick hearing test, the app is able to adapt to the personal hearing characteristics of each individual, amplifying sound in all the right places to compensate for any hearing loss. However, it markets itself as first aid for hearing loss, and should be used as such; as a first aid and not a substitute for the complete therapy.

 

aud 1AUD-1: By processing sound picked up by the iPhone microphone in real time, the AUD-1 app is able to enhance specific features and deliver them to you via your earphones. However, unlike Petralex, AUD-1 does not perform a hearing test: instead, it offers a dynamic range of settings that can be finely tuned and saved as programs for future use.

 

mobile ears Mobile Ears: This app functions as a sound amplifier, promising to enhance the volume of environmental sound and improve speech clarity. Like Petralex and AUD-1, the app needs to have earphones plugged in, and positions itself as a hearing assistant only. It’s unable to perform any of the sophisticated sound processing that hearing aids can, with or without an iPhone hearing aid app. 

iPhone Hearing Aid Apps vs iPhone Apps to Amplify Sound
The way hearing aids work means that they have to be customised by a hearing care professional in a manner which meets the unique challenges of each person with hearing loss. Independent apps that work without a hearing aid cannot serve as a replacement, since there is much more to restoring hearing than just amplifying sound. Independent apps are not managed by a specialist who can see to your needs. They are not adjusted as your hearing changes over time, and neither do they come with dedicated software which can filter and amplify sound in all the right places to provide optimum hearing in different environments. From directional microphones to noise cancellation features, tinnitus maskers and environment specific programs, hearing aids are capable of so much more. Connect a hearing aid to an associated iPhone hearing aid app and its features become supercharged, offering additional value without raising the cost of the hearing aid.

2018 Guide - updated

Hearing Loss and Hearing Solutions - A Guide

The latest version of our Hearing Loss and Hearing Resources Guide

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