Alicia hit the nail on the head when she said the best App and Hearing Device recommendations are dependent upon each person's communication needs and challenges. Hearing aid technology that is integrated with iPhones continues to evolve since it's dawn 2 years ago. At this stage in the game, it can be broken down into Apps that require an intermediary device vs. Apps that work directly with the hearing aid. An intermediary device is a technology that serves as the bluetooth "gateway" between the hearing devices and the phone. This can be an iPhone or any phone that has Bluetooth. Manufacturers that require a gateway to date are: Phonak, Seimens/Signia*, and Widex. Manufacturers that offer made for iPhone products include Resound, Oticon, & Starkey. In my experiences with my guests, my favorite Apps are Resound, Oticon, & Seimens.
The Resound Smart App is awesome because of how much control it gives the user - Changing Volume, Changing Programs, Treble & Bass Adjustments, Microphone Directions, Noise Management, Volume, Tinnitus Masker Manipulation, Creating Own Programs. Additionally you get direct audio from the phone or music into your hearing aids. Resound was the first manufacturer to create a Made for iPhone Hearing Device (MiFi) and they continue to listen to the feedback of users and work with Apple to make the App better. The only thing I wish they did at this point was have a button to turn the phone into a microphone in the App itself. Currently, you have to go to a different page which can be hard for some users.
The Oticon ON App is new to the marketplace. In true Oticon fashion, it is beautiful and very user friendly. It also allows your hearing aid to connect to the Internet of Things, the If-This-Then-That Network. This may not be a huge benefit to every user now, but as devices become more interwoven into our lives it has immense opportunity. This App allows the user to change volume, programs, and use the phone as a microphone. It also allows you to hear audio from the phone or music directly into the hearing devices. Oticon is very careful about making sure the listener is always getting the prescribed sound experience from their provider. So it doesn't have as many controls for the user.
The *Signia Touch Control App does not require an intermediary device. However, if you want to have direct audio for music and phone in your hearing aids, you must get their streamer called an Easy Tek. The Touch Control App allows volume & program changes and microphone directionality changes. So for the person that wants control without wearing an Easy Tek, this is an option. However, if direct audio is important to the user, they will need to wear an Easy Tek or choose a different manufacturer.
All of the Apps have different offerings. Your provider will help you hone in on which one will be best for you after they determine what is ideal for your hearing first and foremost. Technology integrated into hearing devices is fantastic, especially for music and phone direct audio, but ultimately making sure you hear optimally is the most important thing. The analogy I always use is that the Hearing Device is the Hot Fudge Sundae and the App is the Cherry on Top!
A great app i stumbled onto is called TUNITY and it is FREE - the best kind of app! It is strictly for television listening and streams the audio signal from the tv to a smartphone. IF the smartphone is also bluetooth connected to hearing aids, the user can stream real time tv audio to the hearing aids via the phone. It is a simple app to use. There are dozens of broadcast stations available (not local stations). It is currently heavily weighted toward sports programming but includes lifetime, hallmark (i think) and others.
I am going to take a different spin on this question. Many people receive their hearing aids and still need help learning to hear with their devices. We call this Aural Rehabilitation. People will often have some difficulty differentiating sounds even with their hearing aids until they practice listening to the sounds (i.e., confusing shift and sift). There are a couple of apps that work well to train a person to discriminate sounds. Starkey created Hear Coach which works on listening to sentences, words, and a group of numbers. Cochlear created HOPE Words which has a word that you can hear, see written, and see a picture. Using these apps will help a person to become more confident and comfortable listening to speech with hearing aids.
Regarding manufacturer apps, a lot of the app functionality is related to the capabilities of the hearing aid. I have recently noted great patient satisfaction with the Widex Beyond app. As I observed them using the app their first time I noted the facility with which they were able to navigate through the features and the degree to which they found the user interface and experience to be intuitive. Some of the key benefits are:
Great question! I actually just stumbled on an app yesterday called ditto which works in conjunction with a battery-powered wearable device to alert you to calls, texts, emails, alarms, etc coming from your iPhone or Android phone. The ditto is a small vibrator that can be kept in a pocket, worn on your wrist, or clipped onto your clothes. Folks at the Hearing Loss Association of America convention were talking about how useful the app+device can be for those with hearing loss ... to help avoid missing phone calls, etc!
Most of the major hearing aid manufacturers have hearing aids that are directly or indirectly (requires an intermediate device) compatible with iPhones (and Androids). The iPhone technology typically needs to be an iPhone 5 or newer. As for the specific company recommended, it depends on your communication needs and preferences. A full communication assessment with your Audiologist will provide your best options.
Hamilton CapTel offers a free smart phone app for both adroid and apple devices. The app allows a person to listen and read word-for-word captions of everything said to you over your smart phone.
Since 2003 Hamilton CapTel has made closed captioned telephone captions possible for folks with hearing loss. Recently they have created a smart phone app to be used on the go, no longer just for land lines.
More info: HamiltonCapTel.com
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