Do Smartphone Hearing Aid Apps Work?

Overall, apps on the iPhone 6 with wired earphones had the shortest latency and highest SNR improvement when using the Fennex and Petralex apps. Android phones had longer latencies and lower SNR improvement on all apps, and performance varied between devices.


Err… One thing about the paper is that it compares performance of an iPhone 6 to Samsung S6 and S7 phones. The iPhone 6 was issued in September, 2014, the S6 in 2015, and the S7 2016. The article does not say what OS each phone was running that I could see on skimming through but I guess that’s the dangers of ponderous research - your results might be several years behind the times when the work finally appears in print. Out of the 4 apps tested for each phone OS (whatever that was), only one app was designed to run on both iPhone and Android phones. So presumably some part of the results reflect real hardware/OS differences between the two systems for the bygone era of the phones but there is also the possibility given the generally low quality of Android apps relative to iOS apps that the “researchers” just picked crappy Android apps (of which there are many) to review. I guess we’ll never know …

My hazy recollection is that the iphone of that era did indeed have less latency and better audio processing generally than most Android phones. I’m an Android person btw. I did try Petralex a few years ago and it was hopeless. It’s all a bit moot now, isn’t it? Using a wired headset is almost illegal in 2019.

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The article seems to discuss issues that seem quite irrelevant to me. I use an iPhone 7 with KS8 aids and find the combination for talking on the phone to be excellent. Huge improvement over a land line phone. The only current issue I have is the inability with the latest iOS 13.2 operating system to direct alert tones to my aids. That option needs to be added to the Hearing Aids audio routing options. As far as listing to audio sources like iTunes, it is pretty good but limited to some degree by the BLE technology which can be interrupted by body parts between the phone and the aids.

These are not app functions however, as this is MFi capability which is built into the iOS. Not sure Android has any of that until very recently and only with Google phones. On the actual app which I have installed which is the Connexx Smart Direct, there are only a couple of useful functions. One is the ability to adjust the microphone focus with a touch screen and/or slider. The other is the ability to select alternate programs. Yes, I could do that with the toggle buttons on the aids, but I find that very confusing compared to using the phone screen.

Signia/Rexton claim to use the motion sensor in a smart phone to adjust the way the hearing aid programs work. Hard to tell the difference between how it works with or without the phone. Perhaps more sizzle than steak…

My experience with phone apps for my hearing aids is for the Widex Beyond 440 and an android phone. The only problems I experience are when either my phone or hearing aid batteries are low in their charge. Otherwise, I’m able to change programs, alter programs, change volume individually for each aid or together, and use the equalizer.