iPhone bias vs Android

#1

I am prepping myself for my next pair of aids, having worn Siemens 501 CICs for the past 5 years. These have bluetooth connectivity via the Connect gadget, and it all works pretty well. Having been well and truly inoculated against returning to any local audiologists clinic, I visited Costco a few days ago to see if their reputation lives up to all that I have read, and found they are less than half of what was extorted from me all those years ago.

But in my research so far, it strikes me as odd that when it comes to smartphone connectivity, these manufacturers seem to have a real difficulty in dealing with Android, as if it were some obscure branch of phone technology, like Blackberry or WindowsPhone. 80% or more of the market depending on your source, so what’s going on? And it looks like their compatibility listings in the android world don’t extend anything beyond Samsung.

It doesn’t make sense to me that the phone brand should have much to do with it, that it should instead be reliant on the Android version rather than the hardware it is on.

Anyone up to speed on this topic?

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#2

I’ll see if I can give a plausible explanation. This basically from reading the forums, so if you dig in, you can reach your own conclusions. There is one, soon to be released hearing aid that is compatible with pretty much all phones, the Phonak Audeo B-Direct. For all other bluetooth hearing aids, you’re correct, it’s Apple. The major issue is energy (battery) use. Regular bluetooth uses too much energy. Apple developed a low energy (LE) bluetooth protocol) Other than Phonak, nobody has developed a bluetooth chip that is compatible with Android and low in energy use. Many Android phones have apps that are compatible with hearing aids. The reason that some hearing aids are manufacturer specific (Samsung) is that Android versions aren’t completely standardized. LGs Android 7.0 may be slightly different than Samsung’s Android 7.0 and some hearing aid manufacturers don’t seem to want to to spend the effort to test all of the possible permutations and just stick with Samsung. Apple doesn’t have this issue because all Apple phones with a certain version of iOs are the same. Hope this makes some sense. There are others on here who can undoubtedly give better explanation.

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#3

The only minor clarification I would make here is that this Sonova SWORD low power chip is not really compatible with Android phones per se (as in the Android OS), it’s just compatible with the regular/classic (high power) Bluetooth standard. Since most Android phones happen to support this regular/classic Bluetooth standard, just like this SWORD chip is designed to support the same classic Bluetooth standard, they end up being compatible and work with each other through the regular Bluetooth standard.

This clarification about supporting the classic Bluetooth standard means that it’s not only compatible with Android phones, it’s also compatible with PC/laptop/tablets that support the classic BT. Even compatibility with iOS devices like iPhones and iPad is probably through the classic BT that these iOS devices support, not necessarily through the Apple proprietary BLE protocol that most other Made For iPhone HAs use (unless they actually designed the SWORD chip to be compatible with the Apple proprietary BLE protocol, which I don’t see mentioned anywhere so I assume that they don’t).

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#4

I disagree with the statement that “these manufacturers seem to have a real difficulty in dealing with Android”. They do deal with Android phones. Or more correctly, they have dealt with compatibility of the classic BT standard, by creating and selling the neck streamers. They just chose not to miniaturize the neck streamers into a low power chip like the SWORD chip to integrate it into the hearing aid. Why not? It’s probably because they believed the new BLE 5.0 standard was on the horizon (and incidentally had already been standardized earlier this year and adopted by the Samsung S8). As the BLE 5 gets adopted more and more by more Android phone mfgs, the HA mfgs will start supporting BLE 5 for Android phones (and future laptops and tablets) just like they’re supporting the Apple proprietary BLE protocol on the iOS.

Some of these HA mfgs may even see the Sonova approach as taking a step backward. Sonova may gain the market share of current Android owners who want direct streaming from their current Android phones, but they do so at the expense of having to deal with classic BLE limitations. Other HA mfgs are thinking that their intermediate streamers are adequate to hold their market share, and the better strategy is to forward-design their HAs for the BLE 5 compatibility and let the neck streamer provide backward compatibility with classic BT. This way, people who want backward compatibility to classic BT will just contend with and buy their streamers. People who want direct streaming for Android will just wait for BLE 5 support from both side (phone mfgs and HA mfgs). Maybe some of their customers will leave ship for a Phonak HA, but I’m guessing they bet that that number will be small.

Ideally, I think it’d be best to design a chip that supports everything: the classic BT and the new BLE 5 and the Apple proprietary BLE. Unless I’m wrong, I didn’t hear that the SWORD chip supports BLE 5 nor the Apple proprietary BLE. That’s probably because it’d be too much NRE cost to jam everything together. So something has gotta give. Can’t have everything.

And by the way, there’s no iPhone bias vs Android. It’s simply working with what’s available first, and the Apple proprietary BLE just happens to be available first. If BLE 5 had been around first, then that would have been what they would have worked on first. Then even Apple wouldn’t have developed their own BLE. They would have just used the BLE 5 like Android phone mfgs.

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#5

Basically Apple started the trend and now it is all about trying to play catch up to accommodate Android in all its forms. Standards for Bluetooth for HAs have now been agreed upon but they will take a while to find their way into both HAs and the devices you may wish to connect to. I’m glad I am not trying to find a new HA at the moment because I really want to give this whole connectivity issue time to play out. I prefer to hear with my Phonak aids but really miss the direct connectivity I experienced with the Linx/LiNX² aids. The new Phonak direct connection to (almost) all solution is not out yet so we have not heard from any real users yet as to how well it works or what the battery life is like. Things are definitely changing but you have to just find the best solution for you for now according to your own needs and priorities.

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#6

Well I didn’t expect to get such great answers! Top notch, and really provide an insight as to why my perception was of Apple bias, which as you all have demonstrated was more about who had the up and running technology for the manufacturers to work with.

Fortunately I’m not hunting for new HAs at present, just keeping up to date in case mine should suddenly die. I have bluetooth capable HAs now, which I don’t now use. Great fun initially, but because I wear CICs, I live with them as if they were my original ears and slap the phone up to them as one would normally do. Bluetooth was always connecting/disconnecting beep beep beep drive me nuts and not worth the buggerance.

But… It looks like smartphones can eliminate the controller, which does interest me, but only if the android issues are ironed out, so what I’m hearing from you is “watch this space”, which if I get a few more years out of my current CICs will line up well for me.
Thank you all!

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#7

As a followup to this well answered question, is whether there is any likelihood of this technology being available in CIC form factor?

It seems to me that it may be limited to BTEs due to the larger physical space and battery capacity. I would rather go without than move away from having CICs.

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#8

My hearing aids connect directly to my Android cell phone perfectly. I could not use a cell phone otherwise. The rechargeable batteries last about 12 hrs and recharge in 30 min.

I have no intention of buying an Apple IPhone or any other Apple device. I assume BTEs means behind the ears. Mine are rather large and rest behind my ears. I don’t care how they look as long as they work. I have no idea what CIC stands for.

Freq 250 500 1K 2K 4K 6K
Level 58 60 72 80 100 100

SRT 70/75 WRS64%

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#9

I now seem to be Member6 because I was unable to log in. Anyway, I found CIC = Completely-In-Canal (CIC)

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#10

Apple, from the beginning, put low power Bluetooth into their cell phones, for the express purpose of making them hearing aid compatible /allowing direct communication. Android did not. The device you wear if you use an android phone is a Bluetooth low to high power convertor. This creates a minor delay in the signal but very small.
\The reason for low power is because standard BT takes a fair amount of power, and that would eat up hearing aid batteries. However, better high power BT chips have been created and more new aids have high power BT in them. This is essentially the same thing as what is used for a BT earpiece.

I should add that the Apple iOS handles audio differently than Android - it is rolled deeply into the code. Android has audio as a sort of add on to the OS

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#11

The real issue here is that “Android” doesn’t make phones at all. It’s an operating system written at Google and available to anyone who wants to use it. That gives manufacturers a sort-of standard they can use as a basis for their phones. They can add or subtract features, and they can use whatever hardware they can force it to run on. That means that there’s an almost limitless range of Android devices out there, many with great capabilities. However, there’s no clear standard in terms of hardware to the point where “Android” doesn’t mean much in terms of describing a device. When it comes to apps, there is a vast range of possibilities, but some of those depend on taking advantage of specific hardware or OS quirks that might disappear.

Apple sells, primarily, hardware. They provide some really nice software to run on that hardware, but they control their hardware. That means that while there are various versions of, say, iPhones out there, they have a great deal of standardization and backward compatibility. Apple also exerts lots of control over phone and tablet software - apps have to conform to a standard that minimizes the risk of incompatibilities. This irks many who want a more open system, but it does tend to ensure iPhones work the way they’re supposed to. They also sell a whole lot of copies of the same model.

That means it’s sometimes much easier and cheaper to design something for Apple products.

I’m sure Apple likes it this way, but it’s not a conspiracy. Some other company could come up with a popular device and a SDK and let people write and design stuff for their device. In fact, many companies have done so. However, developers in a free society get to choose for what platforms they develop products and my impression is that designing stuff for Apple seems to pay better.

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#12

I guess it was simply luck that the pair of hearing aids I purchased on-line last year connected directly to my non-Apple smart phone. They also connect to my new Microsoft Surface Pro laptop as soon as I turn it on…after pairing once the first time in the Bluetooth setting. I don’t notice any delay in an audio signal. Well, not actually luck. The description said they connected via Bluetooth but I assumed all new hearing aids connected directly via Bluetooth.

I can even use a cheap Bluetooth USB “dongle” plugged into my desktop but I really don’t listen to stuff on the desktop.

I retired after a career in electrical engineering at the National Bureau of Standards Radio division in Boulder, CO…at least that was the name before several later name changes.

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#13

I have an Android phone for personal use and an iPhone for work.but for the hardware of the two, I prefer the iPhone, although the price of the iPhone is higher than that of Android, but in terms of hardware and software, the iPhone is significantly more prominent than Android.on the contrary ,Android also has its advantages, and its operations are more comprehensive , such as Android to Android or Android to iPhone…

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#14

For all the criticism levelled at them, Apple has always taken accessibility seriously.

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#15

As others have said here: it’s pretty much a battle of closed system (Apple) vs the world (Android-based cell phones). Altho the Android phones (Samsung being my own brand) are 5 times more popular on a global scale, that doesn’t mean that software companies are willing to create Android-based apps to help hearing impaired users! We are still a sliver of the total market.

In that respect, I have to hand it to Apple to have jumped on the wagon really early, developing a range of Apple-compatible apps for us hearing impaired users. Even so, I’d prefer an OPEN system, not based on a singular hardware platform. I just get a creepy feeling that Apple wants to control ALL forms of communication: written, spoken, et al, store them on a cloud, make it useful for the NSA, even hackable; slice and dice data for marketing spam …

For now I am sticking with my Android-friendly Phonak Audeo B-Direct aids that work beautifully with my Android-based Samsung 6S Global in addition to my MacBook Pro running OS High Sierra. Um, which reminds me: y’all read about the SUPER bug that enabled root superuser access to Macs? Fix it now!

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#16

P’haps, but I DO have a pet peeve with them: the laptop product line has taken a back seat to iPhone development. Plus, Apple removing useful ports (and even the CD drive) from laptops is infuriating. Like we’re supposed to travel with a gaggle of gear now required to do simple things that my older laptop does effortlessly. The Macbook Pro on which I’m typing now is from 2015, and I honestly don’t WANT a newer Mac. I need a port for the TV streamer with an audio jack for that plug, plus the power cord; on the other side is a port for my cell phone for downloading photos, and one for a jumpdrive even. This puppy is FULLY functional!

Well, I don’t mean to hijack a hearing aid thread to rip into Apple, but STILL. Grrrrrrr…

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#17

umm…err realistically, what you said describes google. Its well documented that iOS is more secure and  does not sell your information like google or track your online whereabouts so as to sell you clickable ads relating to your interest. Also its not as much the android os is more popular, I would say the less expensive no resale value smartphone hardware is more popular than the operating system android in all its various forms.  has taken security seriously for decades and so has accessibility as Seamaster said above.

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#18

You know it’s coming…Blackberry baby!!
Too bad they’re just about defunct. And now even their built-in Android runtime is getting obsoleted due to the version it used. And pretty much no one is writing programs for it either. Sigh.

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#19

Well now that the Phonak direct is here I have to say I am underwhelmed and grossly disappointed. Using old technology to simply connect to a broad range of phones is not what I wanted. The race to please every phone user with one solution has led to a very inferior outcome. Give me made for Apple any day.

You will not see made for Android because Android is a name for a series of operating systems on thousands of different hardware configurations and no one can make something work seamlessly for all those combinations unless they dumb it down to a very basic single ear basic Bluetooth like Phonak did. That really is no help for me. I want the advantages of a smart phone and the fully featured low power solution of the made for iPhone aids. You are never going to see those features with Android.

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#20

Did you see my post about the beginnings of hearing aid support on Android? Phonak built a solution based on Bluetooth Classic. That was never going to be anything other than stop-gap. The future is the low energy Bluetooth 5. Why do you think Google is incapable of implementing a bluetooth hearing aid protocol? It’s not so much Apple v. Android imo. It’s open standard v. closed. I know which one I want to succeed.

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