People who are now researching what hearing aid to buy have noticed two terms: “smartphone ready hearing aids” and “Made for iPhone ™” hearing aids.
What are they and who are they for?
What is a smartphone? Very simply it’s a cell phone that can do more than just act as phone. It has an Internet connection and a touchscreen interface and basically performs many functions that previously only a computer could do. Smartphones can browse the web, be used for email, and use all sorts of applications such as being the platform for games, movies, and financial transactions. Practically every new cell phone is a smart phone these days. Older clam shell phones may or may not be “as smart,” and even iPhones older than the iPhone 5 may not have functionality to work with hearing aids. Most recent smartphones, regardless of brand, can be synched to hearing aids, but this functionality has been made particularly popular by Apple™ which created a special interface for hearing aid companies called Live Listen.
The benefits of linking your hearing aid to a smart phone are numerous.
- You can control your hearing aid by using the application of your smart phone. You no longer have to reach the tiny controls on the hearing aid itself.
- You can receive phone calls directly into your hearing aid via your cell phone. This improves the sound quality of conversations over the phone.
- The iPhone can be used as another microphone at a dinner table or conference meeting. The sound is sent from the microphone on the phone to your hearing aids. This results in richer and clearer sound. This also improves hearing of people speaking from a greater distance at the table.
Smartphone ready hearing aids when combined with smartphones open up a world of opportunities to hearing aid wearers that were simply unavailable before or too costly to implement. They basically close the gap for hearing aid wearers and make it much easier to participate in a group setting.
In summary, if you already have a smart phone and are comfortable using it choosing a hearing aid that can be linked to your phone will reap many benefits. Most people who do this say that it is well worth the additional cost. However, if you do not use a cell phone or if you do not use a newer model, then the investment may not be worth it at first. You may feel more comfortable starting out with a simpler configuration.