To answer simply, no. It is made for any Bluetooth equipped phone be it an Android, Apple Windows or a simple clamshell phone like a Doro so you are not forced to have a Smart Phone just a mobile phone equipped with Bluetooth.
This does introduce some pros & cons. You can take a call through the aid without having to pick up the phone but you cannot stream audio so you would need to figure out how important a factor this would be when considering this model. It does also have the option of a TV streamer which does not require a neck worn or clip on device, a first for Phonak.
Yes and for all smart phones as well as the older style flip phones that have Bluetooth. So Phonak's Audeo B Direct is 'made for all' and not just 'made for iPhone'. This product is currently the only one in the market that has direct connectivity to just about all cell phones that have Bluetooth connectivity. Whatever product one decides to acquire to address one's hearing difficulties, one should make sure that one has the option to try the devices with the option to return the devices within a reasonable period of time if not satisfied (most states have a mandatory trial period by law). Additionally, be sure to seek the services of an audiologist licensed in the state that you are seeking the services in. Best practices include a comprehensive hearing needs assessment in addition to an audiological evaluation, including the evaluation of one's ability to hear in noise. Verification (Real-ear measurements) and validation (outcome measures) of the fitting and hearing and listening exercises (this enhances one's ability to function better in the real world and to increase one's chances of functioning optimally) should be part of a successful hearing rehabilitation program.
Buyers beware. While this new Phonak Audeo B can answer calls from cell phones directly, and many hearing care providers will agree that this is a feature that's pretty nifty, the device lacks a telecoil. A telecoil is a sensor that can pick up magnetic speech signals that are broadcast via inductive coupling in venues that offer hearing loops or where assistive listening devices are offered equipped with neck-loops. Why would a hearing aid user need telecoils? Simple: telecoils enable hearing aid users to hear in places where hearing aids alone are unable to deliver sound at clarity levels that users need to understand speech. If answering your cell phone via your hearing aids is of the utmost importance, and you do not venture out in public places where you need or want to hear (like theaters) or you don't travel (hearing loops are in use around the world including many airports) then this technology is worth considering. Let's hope that the Phonak company will soon introduce an intermediary device that will make the Audio B (retro-actively) compatible via a telecoil with hearing loops and other inductive neck-loop devices to allows consumers to benefit from the best of both worlds; personal Bluetooth signals as as well as access to the hundreds of thousands of inductive (hearing loop) listening systems already in use in the US and abroad.
Yes, it's made for iPhone (M4iP)--and any phone that has Bluetooth capability, including Android and even old flip-phones! So it's actually "made for any phone" (M4AP).
What's the difference? Bluetooth connectivity has been available for hearing aids since 2006, where a user could connect their hearing aids to their cell phone (or any other Bluetooth-enabled device, like and iPad or a Smart TV) for direct listening. This way, the user could answer their phone for hands-free conversation, listening to the phone call through their hearing aids. Doing this, however, required an accessory known generically as a "streamer", which was typically worn on a neckloop. When a phone call comes in, the user would simply hit a button on the streamer to answer (or end) the phone call.
M4iP hearing aids first entered the market in 2014, appealing to users who wanted direct connectivity to their cell phone without any intermediate device. They were made strictly for iPhones since the operating system was inherently the same, whereas the operating systems for Android and other devices were less stable and varied quite a bit, making it more difficult for consistent performance. But the M4iP hearing aids were still well sought after since no streamer is necessary. The user, however, was still required to keep their phone on them to receive or send a phone call (they still needed some way to answer!). Just about every other manufacturer in the "Big 6" has since come out with M4iP products--ReSound's Linx, Starkey Halo, Widex Beyond, Oticon OPN, and Signia Primax BT. Phonak was the only company yet to release such a product--until now.
On August 28th, Phonak released Audeo Direct, a product you could call a "Made for iPhone" hearing aid, but it is something significantly more. This new product is a game changer, as it is capable of direct connectivity with ANY Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, not just iPhones. It uses "Bluetooth Classic" for connectivity, giving it direct connectivity with iPhones, Androids, and so-called "not Smart" phones. The reason it is such a game changer is that, prior to this, non-iPhone users were required to use streamers, and now they don't. In the United States, only 13% of cell phones are iPhones; many more people own Androids and flip phones--particularly seniors. Now 100% of the cell phone market can have direct connectivity without a streamer.
In addition, Audeo Direct users don't have to carry their phone on them; they just need to keep it within 20 feet to maintain connection. So how to they answer? Just by pushing a button on the hearing aid itself can answer, reject, or end a phone call. If the phone has a "Voice Dial" feature (like iPhone's Siri or Android's "OK Goodle"), you can actually initiate a phone call by holding down the button and, once the prompt has been given, saying "Call Scot Frink" (or whoever else you want to call).
To support the release of Audeo Direct, Phonak has also released a "TV Connector." This small device can be attached to the back of the television and transmit directly from the TV to the hearing aids, giving the user crystal-clear listening of the TV program. And it, too, can be initiated simply with the push of the button on the hearing aid; when the user walks into the room, he or she gets an audible prompt from the hearing aids, making them aware that a TV signal is available. If they want to hear the TV, they simply need to push the button a hearing aid. If they prefer, they can set it to automatically connect with the hearing aids when they enter the room. The possibilities for this are limitless for public locations as well--movie theaters, churches, playhouses, bank teller windows--all have the potential for use of this device, making life simpler and more enjoyable for the hearing impaired.
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