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Made For Android Hearing Aids

Made For Android, or MFA Hearing Aids

No matter what you call them, they are probably one of the biggest things to happen in hearing aids for years

Bluetooth Hearing Aids For Android, What's Available?

Made For Android hearing aids have been long awaited and anticipated. Considering almost 80% of smartphone users use an Android-based phone, there is a massive market for hearing aids that connect directly to them in the way that Made For iPhone hearing aids do. Unfortunately, up to very recently, this has always been a problematic thing to achieve for the hearing device manufacturers. It has been quite a long time coming, but it has finally arrived. In an announcement today it was confirmed that Made For Android will be finally available on Android 10 which begins its rollout to Pixel phones today September 3rd 2019. The announcement says "For the first time, people with hearing loss can stream music, phone calls and other sounds directly from their compatible Google device to a ReSound LiNX Quattro hearing aid and Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor without worrying about their hearing devices’ battery life. "

Apple Works Right!

Apple, however,  is a very different proposition from Android, they completely control both the operating system and the phone hardware. That is why Made For iPhone hearing aids came first, the hearing aid brands were dealing with a completely known and controlled standard. That allowed them to plan and implement their MFI hearing aids without a huge amount of worry about the efficacy and reliability of the connection. 

What Took So Damned Long?

The issue for the hearing aid brands has always been the Android operating system and the fragmentation of it and the hardware used in Android phones. Android is an OS that is used on many phones from many different phone brands, that has meant that the Android experience on Samsung devices is quite different than on HTC devices. It also means that the hardware used in those phones is also often different. This ensures that designing hearing aids that will work with every Android phone is an insurmountable task. However, with the introduction of Android P, that began to change. 

Android wrested back a lot more control over the OS with Android P, especially the Bluetooth management system. It means that the part of the operating system that will help hearing aids connect will now be the same across phones with Android P. The inbuilt hardware is something they won't control though, but, we can expect every major phone brand to follow suit quickly because they understand the value of hearing aid direct connection. With the introduction of Android Q or 10, finally, the system is available to Pixel 3 phone owners.

I said when I first sorted this page out that I expected it in 2019, and that even when it is introduced, it will only be available on Google Pixel 3 phones initially and it will not be a backwards-compatible system. I was right on both counts, it finally arrived and it is just on the Pixel 3. The only hearing aids to work with the new protocol will be the ReSound LiNX Quattro. I would expect that to change quickly enough, the ASHA protocol is open source, so I would imagine both major phone brands and other hearing aid manufacturers will follow quickly, so I can see 2020 being the year of Made For Android.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids That Work With Android Right Now

There are Bluetooth hearing aids that work directly with Android right now. They are billed as Made For All Phone devices which is a concept of the Sonova group, their initial devices would allow you to answer calls hands-free in one hearing aid from an Android phone but would not allow you to stream audio to your hearing aids.

Phonak Android Streaming

However, the new Phonak Bluetooth hearing aid range called the Marvel will allow stereo streaming from an Android phone. It will also deliver stereo streaming from an iPhone, in fact, it will deliver both stereo streaming of phone calls and audio from any Bluetooth enabled phone. While these devices don't fit the rigid concept of MFI or MFA, they will connect to both Apple phones and Android phones and allow streaming. 

Buy The Rechargeable Version

The key with these devices though is that they are power-hungry, I would advise that if you are buying a Made For Any Phone hearing aid or the new Marvel hearing aids, buy the rechargeable hearing aid version. 

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Resound

LiNX Quattro LT61

First Ever Made For Android Hearing Aid

As we reported on our blog (13/08/2018), Resound has announced the launch of a new premium plus hearing aid called the LiNX Quattro. Initially, the new LiNX Quattro came in two hearing aid models, both of which were Reciever In Canal. The rechargeable version which we cover here and a non-rechargeable model. The LiNX Quattro range has been built to be Made For Android and it will be the only hearing aid range that will work with the ASHA protocol on the Pixel 3.

The rechargeable model is lithium-ion powered and offers a huge amount of power no matter how much you are streaming. As I said earlier, my advice would be to always go for the rechargeable version of these types of hearing aids. Even the low power version of Bluetooth which is used by the Quattro is still power-hungry. So rechargeable means that you don't have to worry about buying batteries, it is also a far easier use proposition. I mean I didn't realise how much I loved rechargeable until I had a set.

Since the initial introduction, Resound announced in August 2019 that they were introducing custom LiNX Quattro hearing aids. Four new options will be available: the first Completely-in-Canal (CIC) 2.4 GHz wireless hearing aid for direct streaming, high-quality In-the-Canal (ITC) and In-the-Ear (ITE) models, and ReSound's proprietary Mic-in-Helix (MIH) hearing aid. The devices are available in five skin-tone colours to ensure that they are personal and discreet for every user. All of the custom hearing aids will be Made For iPhone and Made For Android.

Resound Quattro hearing aids in charger

A quick run-down of the salient points:

  • The Quattro range is available in three technology levels
  • Quattro devices are now both Receiver In Canal devices and In The Ear Devices
  • All of the Quattro devices are Bluetooth direct connection hearing aids
  • The devices use a brand new chip platform
  • The chip has 100% faster processing than 3D
  • The chip has 100% additional memory over the 3D
  • Resound are using a new way of handling directionality inputs
  • They have introduced a redesigned wireless radio with extra signal strength
  • They have extended the bandwidth of the devices giving extra high-frequencies
  • They have increased their dynamic input range, calling it industry leading
  • The Quattro range has an outstanding Lithium-ion rechargeable device available
  • The rechargeable hearing device will deliver 24 hours of use with 50% streaming on a three-hour charge
  • The Lithium-ion devices will deliver 30 hours of use without streaming on a three-hour charge 
  • The Quattro range offers the first ever Bluetooth direct connection Completely In Canal hearing aid ever

A Lithium-ion Rechargeable Made For iPhone & Android Hearing Aid

The LiNX Quattro LT61 is a rechargeable direct connection, Bluetooth enabled or Made For iPhone hearing aid just like all the LiNX devices before it. Resound have redesigned the wireless radio though and they say that it is more powerful than ever before. That should translate into pretty stable connection to the iPhone. ReSound have also announced that they have partnered with Google to set a connection standard for Made For Android and the Quattro will be the first-ever Made For Android hearing aid. 

Making it a rechargeable device makes a lot of sense, although they have used the chip upgrades to improve power consumption, a rechargeable option allows you the comfort of never having to worry about hearing aid batteries. The battery life is also fantastic, they say that you will get 24 hours of life even if you are streaming for 50% of the time, that's pretty amazing. The device shown above is the rechargeable option, but as I said, they are also offering a traditional hearing aid battery model which is based on the LT-62 using a size thirteen battery.

Custom Hearing Aids

LiNX Quattro custom hearing aids

It will be interesting to see how the custom hearing aids work out. While normally with new technology we would expect teething problems, ReSound have been offering Made For iPhone custom hearing aids for a long time. It will be interesting to see just how small the CIC is and what type of battery life that they can get out of it.

Premium Plus Price Point

Resound have not introduced the devices as a replacement for the LiNX 3D, rather, they have introduced them as a new premium price point above the LiNX 3D 9 and 7 and 5. With the expansion of the Quattro range to now include custom hearing aids, they will be more attractive to more people. The fact that this is the first-ever Made For iPhone and Made For Android CIC is also to be celebrated.

Phonak

Audeo Marvel Hearing Aids

Phonak Audeo Marvel

Made For Any Phone Hearing Aids

Phonak introduced Marvel to the world at EUHA 2018 and it is a pretty amazing hearing aid range. The Marvel isn't just a Made For iPhone, it is a Made For Any Phone hearing aid. It is a true Bluetooth hearing aid in all that the concept is. Initially, the new Marvel range will be available in the Audeo type which is Phonak's Receiver In Canal style of hearing aids. However, they will expand the range as time passes. Their initial offering is a Lithium-Ion powered rechargeable hearing aid version and a traditional size 312 Zinc-Air version. My advice would be to go for the rechargeable version because I think these things are going to be power hungry.

While Phonak had introduced the concept of Made For Any Phone with the Audeo B-Direct, that device was a compromise. It connected to phones but only allowed you to hear the call in one ear. It also didn't stream audio from your phone. The Marvel hearing device is a hugely multi-functional and feature-rich hearing aid which streams audio to both ears. There is actually a huge amount to talk about with the Marvel platform, almost so much that you wonder where to start. The Marvel contains probably every single one of the current headline features in the hearing aid world, and they have even thrown in some new ones, here’s the quick list:

  • Stereo Bluetooth streaming: Stereo streaming from any Bluetooth enabled device, that means iPhone, iPad, laptops, computers, Macs, Android phones, Windows phones, hell any Bluetooth-enabled phone.
  • Real Hands-free calling in stereo: Like the Audeo B-direct, the Marvel offers true hands-free calling from Bluetooth-enabled phones and VOIP services like Skype, except, to both hearing aids.
  • TV Streaming: Marvel can stream directly from Bluetooth-enabled TVs, and can also stream from the Phonak TV Connector accessory.
  • Rechargeability: They say both Marvel rechargeables will deliver a full day of hearing aid use from a single charge.
  • Remote adjustments: Marvel hearing aids can be adjusted remotely by your hearing expert.
  • New App Eco-System: Brand new apps to make life easier and engage the consumer in the process.
  • RogerDirect: This is really fascinating, for the first time, users will be able to stream from Roger devices directly to their hearing aids.
  • Full Phonak Feature Set: Unlike the Audeo B-direct, the Marvel devices will not be hobbled, they will offer full and up to date inter-ear features.

Phonak Marvel Hearing Aids family

Four Levels of Technology

The Audeo Marvel will be available in four levels of technology when they are released. It appears that only the Audeo M-R and the Audeo M-312 will be released initially but we are unsure of the release date. From what I can see, the rechargeable hearing aid model will be available at all four levels of technology which is good. Originally it was only available in the top three of the Belong range. 

You can read our article on the introduction of the devices which gives a decent rundown on the new Phonak Marvel here

Phonak

Bolero Marvel Range

The Bolero Marvel range is the latest range of Behind The Ear hearing aids from Phonak. It consists of just two hearing aid models, The Bolero Marvel M and the Bolero Marvel PR which is a little strange. Both devices really only cover hearing losses up to moderate to severe. Phonak would usually introduce a larger range of Bolero devices includinh a device that would cover severe to profound hearing loss. This time, they haven't, I think that means that we will see the Naida Marvel range of hearing aids introduced soon.

Bolero Marvel Hearing Aid Prices

We would expect the Bolero Marvel range to be sold at prices from £800.00 to £2200.00 in the UK depending on the Practice and location. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from €1000.00 to €3000.00 in Ireland. We would expect the range to be sold at prices from $1000.00 to $3200.00 in the USA.

Bolero Marvel M

Bolero Marvel M with slimtube configuration

The Bolero Marvel M is a pretty discrete mini BTE with a multi-functional button, not unlike the button used on the Audeo. The M can be fitted with a slim tube (which you can see above) or an ear hook for traditional tubing and ear mould. The M will cover hearing losses down to 75 dB in the low to 95 dB in the high frequencies. That, of course, depends on configuration, with the slim tube fitted, that reduces to 80 to 85 dB in the high frequencies. The M has all of the features of the Marvel platform with a direct connection to any Bluetooth mobile phones and  Roger devices. However, the M does not have a telecoil onboard so a connection to a Loop System is out. The device will be available in the four levels of technology, the 90, the 70, the 50 and the 30

Bolero Marvel PR

Bolero Marvel PR with slim tube fitted

The Bolero Marvel PR is slightly larger than the M, but it is still relatively discrete. It uses the same multi-functional button as the smaller M. The PR is a  lithium-ion powered rechargeable hearing aid can be fitted with a slim tube (which you can see above) or an ear hook for traditional tubing and ear mould. The PR will cover hearing losses down to 80 dB in the low to 100 dB in the high frequencies. That, of course, depends on configuration, with the slim tube fitted, that reduces to 70 in the low and 90 dB in the high frequencies.

The PR has all of the features of the Marvel platform with a direct connection to any Bluetooth mobile phones and  Roger devices. It also has a telecoil onboard so it can be used to connect to a Loop System. Phonak say that you will get a full day of use out of one charge and use time is similar to the Audeo. The device will be available in the four levels of technology, the 90, the 70, the 50 and the 30

Phonak

Audeo B-Direct

Audeo B-Direct hearing aid

Phonak Delivers Made For Any Phone

When Phonak introduced the Audeo B-Direct it was a revolutionary hearing aid that changed Bluetooth wireless connection to a mobile phone forever. The Audeo B-Direct connects to any Bluetooth® enabled mobile phone, directly without a streamer. Even better, it offers true hands-free calling. As it supports the classic Bluetooth protocol, it provides direct connectivity to cell phones – including AndroidTM, iPhone® and even classic cell phones – with no extra body-worn streaming device required. 

Not Quite Made For!

While these hearing aids will stream phone calls from iPhones and Android phones, they don't fall within the same feature concept as the Made For Android hearing aids discussed that are discussed here. They do not have the same features and abilities, let's take a look at what I mean.

True hands-free calling

The hearing aids offer real hands-free voice calling. The wearer can answer or reject a phone call by simply pressing the push button on their hearing aid. The ringing of the phone is heard through one of the hearing aids and once the call is accepted, the conversation is instantly streamed. You don’t even need to pick up your phone. Your voice is picked up by the hearing aid’s intelligent microphone network and transmitted to the other caller similar to a wireless headset.

No Music Streaming

Unfortunately for people who like to stream music or audiobooks from their phone, this hearing device isn't the answer. While it delivers astonishing new power over mobile phone calls, it doesn't allow the type of streaming that delivers music or other audio. However, they have thought about music lovers and your TV viewing habits.

Hearing aids that double as wireless TV headphones

They have also introduced an accompanying TV Connector, which uses their proprietary AirStreamTM technology. It is designed to be a state-of-the-art compact multimedia hub that seamlessly connects wearers to their favourite TV programming for an immersive audio experience. It’s a plug and play solution that automatically turns a pair of Audéo B-Direct hearing aids into wireless TV headphones. The TV Connector can also connect and transmit to multiple sets of Audéo B-Direct hearing aids simultaneously. That’s a pretty good solution for couples with hearing loss.

TV Connecter

Audeo B-Direct

The device is a receiver in canal (RIC) hearing aid which means that it will be suitable for a wide range of hearing losses and users. It is also the first device to make use of Sonova’s revolutionary SWORD chip and wireless radio technology. They say that the low-voltage radio chip has the lowest power consumption of any hearing aid using Bluetooth Classic.

The device uses a size thirteen battery and Phonak reports some excellent battery life figures. They say that the battery should last for six days with one hour of phone use and 3 hours of TV per day. That isn’t bad, I would say though real-world experience will vary, some people like to talk more and watch a lot more TV. Even though the device is a size thirteen, it isn't actually much bigger than their Audeo B 312. 

Three levels of technology

The Audeo B-Direct is available in three levels of technology, the 90, the 70 and the 50, so no entry level device this time around. Although that was to be expected based on the introduction of the rechargeable devices.

Read More ABout Phonak Hearing Aids Here

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Unitron Discover Hearing Aids

Unitron released the new Discover range which is their brand new Made For Any phone range of hearing devices in mid 2019. Unusually for Unitron, the new range is being introduced with just Receiver In Canal hearing aids first. The range includes a new lithium-ion powered rechargeable hearing aid they call the Moxi Jump R and a 312 zinc air powered hearing aid they call the Moxi Fit. The new devices will connect to any mobile phone, once it has a Bluetooth connection, and stream audio and calls directly to your hearing aids. Even better, you will be able to take phone calls hands-free. Let's take a look at what the new range has to offer.

Unitron Discover

Two Hearing Aids

For the first time ever that Unitron is not launching a full set of Receiver In Canal (RIC) devices at the introduction. Their sister company Phonak did something similar with the Audeo Marvel. Unitron is doing the same thing and there is only a size 312 traditional battery RIC and a lithium-ion powered RIC at launch.

Made For Any Phone

The devices will connect to any mobile phone or tablet with a Bluetooth connection, so that means Android devices, iPhones and iPads and even dumb mobile phones. The connection offers stereo audio streaming from those devices for both calls and any other audio signal. That means you get the audio in both ears from your device.

Hands-FreeCalls

The new devices also provide hands-free phone calls, that means that you can chat away with your caller without picking up your phone. Better than that, you can actually answer a call simply by pushing the button on your hearing aid. You don't even need to pick up your phone to take a call. All without the need for a streamer hanging around your neck. It works directly. 

Technology Levels

Unitron hearing aids are normally split into five levels of technology, however, they have split the new Discover into four, the Discover 9, 7, 5 and 3. There are certain features that are available in all levels of technology, but the higher the number, the better the features and ability to handle complex sound situations. Let's take a closer look at the hearing aids.

The Moxi Fit

The Moxi Fit is powered by a size 312 zinc-air battery and it offers a multi-functional push button for volume and programme changes among other things. The pushbuttons can also be used to answer or end a phone call. The Moxi Fit can use four power levels of receiver, so that means it will cover hearing losses from mild, to severe to profound. The device does not have a telecoil, unfortunately. 

Made For Any Phone

The device is a Made For Any Phone hearing aids which will mean a seamless stereo connection to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone or sound source. I would assume you will be able to take calls just by pressing a button on the hearing aid. 

Unitron Moxi Fit hearing aid

The Moxi Jump R

The Moxi Jump R  is powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery and it offers a multi-functional push button for volume and programme changes among other things. As with the Fit, the pushbuttons can also be used to answer or end a phone call. The Moxi Jump R can use four power levels of receiver, so that means it will cover hearing losses from mild, to severe to profound. There is no telecoil on the Jump R either. The device should deliver a full day of use with one three hour charge even with up to eight hours of streaming.  

Made For Any Phone

The device is a Made For Any Phone hearing aids which will mean a seamless stereo connection to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone or sound source. I would assume you will be able to take calls just by pressing a button on the hearing aid. 

Unitron Moxi Jump R 9 hearing aid

Unitron

Moxi All Hearing Aids

Moxi All

Rechargeable Made For Any Phone

Moxi AllLike their stablemate Phonak, Unitron chose to offer a hearing aid that will connect to any mobile phone with Bluetooth using a headset protocol. However, in a very smart move, they decided to make the device rechargeable. If you are considering the purchase of any direct connection hearing aid from any of the hearing aid brands, well then thinking about a rechargeable option makes sense.

Made For iPhone, Made For Android or Made For Any Phone systems are quite power hungry devices. Going for a rechargeable option makes financial sense here. The rechargeable system that Unitron uses in this device is the Z Power system that Unitron went with for the rest of their devices. There have been some problems with that system so do your research in relation to it and follow the instructions given carefully. 

Five Different Price Points

The Moxi All is available in five different levels of technology, so that means five price points. In other words, there should be one for everyone. 

No Streamer, Headset Functionality

The Made For Any Phone concept delivers pretty revolutionary hearing aids that changes Bluetooth wireless connection to a mobile phone forever. The Moxi All connects to any Bluetooth® enabled mobile phone, directly without a streamer. It offers true hands-free calling. As it supports the classic Bluetooth protocol, it provides direct connectivity to cell phones – including AndroidTM, iPhone® and even classic cell phones – with no extra body-worn streaming device required.

One Ear Only

The Moxi All only offers mobile phone streaming to one ear only. However, that is not a real problem, during my use of them, I found no real issues hearing the caller even in a relatively noisy situation. You can read more about my experience with the Moxi All here.

No Music Streaming

While these hearing aids will stream phone calls from iPhones and Android phones, they are not typical Made For iPhone or Made For Android hearing aids. They do not have quite the same features and abilities, for instance, they will not stream music or audiobooks from your phone. However, if you just want a good mobile phone solution, well then these devices are pretty good. 

Unitron TV ConnectorTV Connector

They will, however, stream audio from any sound source that you connect to their new TV Connector. The device will stream high-quality audio to both of your Moxi All hearing aids. I have spoken to a few people who have experienced the audio streaming via a TV Connector and they have all been exceptionally happy with the experience. 

Like the Audeo B-Direct from Phonak, you need to think a little carefully about the Moxi All before you buy them. However, because of the way many Unitron features work, there is no loss of benefits or features because of the new Bluetooth chip, unlike the Audeo B-Direct.

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