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6 Smartphone Apps to Help Boost Your Communication

Want to feel even more connected to the world around you through the power of sound? There’s an app for that!

Actually, we’ve compiled a list of six apps that can help support your communication wellness.

  • 1. Live Transcribe

    This Google app for Android-powered smartphones doesn’t translate but does transcribe in-person conversations in real time. The program — developed with Gallaudet University, the renowned U.S. school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students — can turn speech from more than 70 languages and dialects into text on your phone’s screen in a matter of seconds, facilitating communication with quick, helpful captions. It even supports bilingual chats, letting you toggle between languages, and allows you to type your responses rather than speak them if so desired. Bonus: The app can also notify you of important sounds — the beep of a smoke alarm, for example — in your home.

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  • 2. NIOSH Sound Level Meter

    Though it can’t replace professional instruments or expert opinion, this app uses your compatible mobile device’s built-in microphone to measure the sound level in your environment. On a global scale, some researchers estimate that 16 to 24 percent of hearing loss is associated with occupational noise. Excess noise is one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss, making it important to know the sound levels where you potentially spend a lot of time — at work — so you can curb your risk. The app can also help approximate noise at stores, restaurants, or anywhere else you may need to protect your hearing.

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  • 3. SoundWatch

    How does artificial intelligence right at your wrist sound? This exciting smartwatch-based application can alert you to the sounds around you, making daily life even easier. The application, developed especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, uses machine learning to alert the user to certain types of sounds they can preselect — a car honk, a cat’s meow, a baby cry, or running water, for example. It’s not for emergencies or other high-risk situations but could help enhance general awareness of your environment.

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  • 4. Marlee Signs

    This app for children and adults teaches basic American Sign Language (ASL) with Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. ASL, common in the U.S. and Canada, offers a way to connect with others regardless of their hearing ability but can be especially useful for those who are or have friends or loved ones who are deaf or have a severe to profound hearing loss. Other ASL-instruction apps are also available, so consider using a few different ones to explore finger-spelling, conversational signing, building vocabulary, helping babies communicate, and more.

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  • 5. SoundPrint

    This app takes noise measurement to a whole other level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. Users can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound-level ratings. Like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter, SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, but it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.

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  • 6. AGX® Online Hearing Quiz

    OK, this one isn’t an app, but it’s just as convenient. The AGX Online Hearing Quiz — developed with audiology experts — takes only two minutes and provides a quick snapshot of your general hearing ability based on three broad aspects: the listening environment, the different tones you can hear, and your ability to hear speech amid noise. It doesn’t replace a true diagnostic hearing exam, but it will indicate if you can benefit from further testing.

As with any app, availability, functionality, and cost can change. The mobile apps listed above are free as of this writing, but compatibility with iOS- or Android- powered phones, tablets, or watches can vary per program, so be sure to read about them in the relevant online app store for more details.
 
Have questions about using apps with your hearing device? We’re here to help. Contact our caring team today!


Find Your Favorites

A whole world of apps awaits, so don’t hesitate to build your own list of healthy-hearing faves. Get started with these simple tips:

  • Search by keyword, developer name, app title, or product category to turn up results you may want to check out.
  • Carefully read the app description and system requirements. Some apps might also offer a demo you can preview before buying or downloading.
  • Learn what others think of the app by reading users’ comments and professional reviews that may be available online.
Illustration of young African American woman listening to music on her headphones while looking at her smartphone

Connecting to Smartphones With Your Hearing Aids

The world of wireless can be a little daunting. But experiencing the joys of streaming can be as easy as 1-2-3. If you’re not sure how to get started using your hearing aids’ Bluetooth capabilities, read on.


Connecting Hearing Aids to Your Smartphone

There are a growing number of made-for-smartphone hearing aids. This technology lets you send the audio from your phone, tablet, or laptop directly to your hearing aids. In short, you can use your hearing aids as wireless headphones. Not all hearing aids with Bluetooth are smartphone-compatible — only the ones designated Made for iPhone or Made for Android.

The good news is setting these up is simple — the technology does most of the work for you! Whether you have Apple- or Android-compatible hearing aids, the idea is the same. The only difference is the steps you take on your smartphone to make it happen.

Turn on your Bluetooth

On either your iPhone or your Android phone, go to the Settings app. Find Bluetooth — it should be near the top of the menu — select it, then turn it on.

Locate your hearing aids in the list

On your iPhone, go back to the Settings app. Scroll down, find Accessibility, and select it. Scroll about halfway down that menu, find Hearing Devices, and select it. Your hearing aids should be listed.

On your Android phone, once you turned on Bluetooth, your phone should have started “looking” for other Bluetooth-enabled devices to connect to. Within seconds, your hearing aids should be listed.

For both phones, if your phone doesn’t list your hearing aids within a few seconds, you may need to open and close the battery doors or put them on the recharger. This turns them off and then on again, which should help your phone find them.

Select your hearing aids

When your phone finally lists your hearing aids as an option, select them. They will begin connecting, which could take up to 30 seconds or a minute.

Connecting Other Devices to Your Hearing Aids

 

Smartphone streamers

If your hearing aids aren’t Made for iPhone or Made for Android, you can still wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone to your hearing aids. It just requires a separate, tiny wireless device, called a streamer, that either clips to your collar or hangs from your neck and can be hidden underneath your clothing.

Other streamers

Many situations — even with smartphone-compatible hearing devices — require a streamer if you want audio sent to your hearing aids. From TV streamers to mini-microphones (for conversations in noisy environments), you can find a streamer to assist you in hearing your world even more clearly.

Each hearing aid manufacturer makes their own array of streamers. Connecting is often even easier than the above process and can be found in the streamer’s instructions.


If you’re curious about the latest streamers or want to learn more about smartphone-compatible hearing aids, contact us today!Connecting to Smartphones With Your Hearing Aids

Have Yourself a Hearable Holiday | Our List of the Best Wearables

Wearables are commonplace now, from fitness trackers to smart watches. Theyíre more than just technology you can wear, though: A wearable usually has Bluetooth connectivity as well as sensors that track step count, heart rate, and other biometric data. But in the last few years, wearables have migrated ó to the ear and to the wish list.

The Hearable

Thatís right, you can now wear smart technology in your ears. This kind of device is called a hearable. The market is too broad for any one definition to fully describe what a hearable is, but a good working definition is a wireless in-ear micro-computer.

Some hearables are as simple as earbuds that enhance your music-listening experience. Others are hearing aids that double as sophisticated wellness trackers. Below are features youíll commonly find in different hearables.

  • Connectivity. Sync to a smartphone, tablet, or smart home device.
  • Biometric tracking. Track your steps, your heart rate, or even your running pace with sensors embedded in the hearable.
  • Improved sound quality. Drawing on technology used in todayís hearing aids, you can enjoy noise-canceling capabilities or choose how much environmental sound you want. For example, you can allow just enough noise to ensure you remain aware of traffic.
  • Translation. Have a foreign language translated to your native language in real time.

Notable Hearables

What does all this look like in action? Letís check out some of the hearables currently on the market.

Jabra Sport Pace.
Listen to music, talk on the phone, and switch between the two seamlessly during your running workout with these wireless earbuds that connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone. Theyíre sweat and weather resistant and, with the Jabra Sport Life app, you can monitor your pace. These wireless earbuds last up to five hours on one charge, or you can use the rapid-charge feature for when youíre on the go: 15 minutes of charging gives you an hour of battery life.

The Pilot.
These wireless earbuds connect via Bluetooth to your mobile device and allow you to listen to music and phone calls ó and they translate spoken language in real time! The Pilot translates 15 languages and 42 dialects in natural-sounding male and female voices, provides on-screen transcripts, and offers quick access to a dictionary as well as a phrasebook. Plus, they last up to 20 hours on one charge with the portable charger.

Jabra Elite Sport.
Unlike the Jabra Sport Pace, this one is built for professional athletic training. You can still listen to music, talk on the phone, and switch between the two seamlessly, but the Elite Sport also features better moisture resistance, a heart rate monitor, step count, rep count, VO2 measurement, and hear through, which allows you to determine how much environmental noise to filter out. Plus, with the Jabra Sport Life App, you get personalized audio coaching in real time.

AGXs liv AI.
This product is intended for those with a diagnosed hearing loss. These hearing aids stream phone calls, music, and more directly from your mobile devices and offer a rechargeable option. If that werenít enough, they use integrated sensors to monitor brain and body health. The Thriveô app tracks it all, provides wellness scores, transcribes conversations so you can read them, and even translates 27 spoken languages. To top it all off, the devices can detect if youíve fallen and will alert chosen contacts.