We have waited for Made For Android for just over five years. I thought that once Made For iPhone hearing aids were launched we would see the direct connection to Android phones in a short period of time. Oh, how wrong was I. Anyway, it's finally here, and I have been trying it out for over two weeks now. I have to say I am impressed with it, it works as I expected, and I like it a lot. It's funny that after so many years that direct connection can still be exciting. If you have a Google Pixel 3 or 3a that has been updated to Android 10 and a set of LiNX Quattro hearing aids you can experience it too. In fact, if you have a set of LiNX Quattro hearing aids, it might be worth your while to buy yourself a Google Pixel 3a, it shouldn't cost you any more than around £300, and it is so worth it.
In order to get connected, you need to upgrade your Pixel 3 or 3a to Android 10. Initially, some people were having some problems with the upgrade. It only affected certain people though, which was a little strange. Anyway, I updated my Pixel 3a without any fuss and had no problems. Once the update is done, download the Resound Smart 3D app to the phone. Make sure your Bluetooth is turned and open the app. The app will guide you through connecting the phone to the hearing aids. Like all initial pairing, it involves turning the aids on and off to get it started.
With the rechargeable Quattro hearing aids, it is as simple as dropping your hearing aids into the charger for a couple of seconds before taking them out. With any of the traditional battery-powered devices, it is just a case of opening and closing the battery doors. This initial pairing will not give you access to streaming though. However, it begins the process.
Within about five minutes, you should get a notification that your hearing aids need a firmware upgrade. In my experience, this was a little hit or miss, the first time I did it, I waited two hours without a notification. So I deleted the app, rebooted the phone, downloaded the app and then paired the hearing aids again. The second time I did it, I got the firmware upgrade notice almost immediately. Hey, it's computers right, if they weren't irritating there would be something wrong.
The firmware upgrade takes a few minutes, once it is done, it will ask you to pair the hearing aids again. Go through the pairing process again and then once it is done, Google will automatically assign the devices in the ASHA settings. To see the labour of your work, open the phone settings and scroll down to accessibility. Click on it and when it opens, scroll down to the end and under hearing aids, you will see your Quattros registered.
During the second pairing process, it will throw up a notification about turning of certain system audio notifications. Find the setting and turn them off, otherwise every time you click a button or enter an app the system will grab the audio connection for a second. When it happens, it is like your hearing aid has cut out for a second. It hasn't, it is just the system grabbing the audio connection. Turn off the notifications and it won't happen.
As I said, I have been using them for two weeks, which is enough time to make some decent observations. I will detail them here, but I will follow up in a month or so to discuss my long term experiences. In fairness, it isn't an imposition, I like the Quattro devices a lot and I am always happy to wear them. Anyway, the connection appears pretty robust, during the period I have been using them I have had no issues with lost connection or drop-outs. Which to be honest, surprised me.
With Made For iPhone connections, there is normally some issues with body shadow and such like, but I didn't seem to have any issues. Again, this was a short enough trial, but it appears to bode well.
The sound quality of all streamed audio was pretty good, it was slightly tinny, which I was surprised by. Streaming from iPhones with Resound aids seem to have more bass boost. The app is great though, with a couple of clicks, you can boost the low frequencies to adjust the bass of the streaming audio to your taste.
Music was decent overall and audiobooks were excellent. Phone calls were clear and generally, I was happy with the sound quality overall. It appears that both Google and Resound have tried to ensure that the system works out of the box.
It is funny to be speaking about streaming from a smartphone to hearing aids as it has become so widespread, at least for Apple users. It is past time that we have had it for people who prefer Android phones. Now it has finally arrived, it is just as cool as I expected. While this step forward is genuinely welcome, for me, the really interesting thing is how this stepping stone will be used to deliver even more.
Resound has been serious about helping people with hearing loss hear better for years. Now that Google has got in on the act, it will be truly fascinating to see where this technology and this partnership may lead. Anyway, as I said earlier, if you have a set of LiNX Quattros and you love Android phones, spoil yourself, go out and buy a Pixel 3a and open up your world, it will be the best three hundred pounds worth of your favourite currency you have ever spent. Now, the Turtle moves, and I need to finish listening to one of my favourite audiobooks again.
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