Life is grand. I am content, happy with my home and neighborhood and live a relaxing and rewarding life. I'm just your average blind, retired and elderly fellow who wears hearing aids. The blindness is here to stay, as is my retirement status and I suspect I will continue to age. The only thing I really aspire to change is how well I hear and how well my hearing aids work with my iPhone.
I am a retired executive and computer geek who still loves ￼problem solving. When something doesn't work as well as I'd like, I always assume that either I or some poor soul that I persuade to help, will make things better. Right now, I'm on a mission to find deeper bliss with Made for iPhone hearing aids.
Truth is, my hearing aids do me a lot of good. When I first started wearing them two and a half years ago, I discovered that my wife of more than forty years had not really slipped into mumbling at me. Her voice happens to reside closer to those higher frequencies where I am no longer hearing very well. I also discovered the wonders of listening to VoiceOver, Apple Music and Audible all through my very discrete hearing aids. I was likewise thrilled that the particular brand I procured did not have that latency lag I found in some other hearing aids, where there was a noticeable delay in speech or when initial words were clipped.
So, what am I griping about? Just those little, and sometimes not so little imperfections that make this old man crazy. I cannot say that it is the hearing aid manufacturers fault, and I cannot offer indisputable evidence the irritations were brought on by flaws or choices made in the iOS operating system, and I cannot easily prove that it is not some kind of user error, meaning me, that leaves me somewhat unsatisfied.
Folks who have read my blogs over the years, know that I long ago transitioned to using my iPhone as my singular personal computer. I spent thirty years of my career in the computer industry and have worked on laptops, desktops, minicomputers, and Big Iron. But, none of those will fit in my shirt pocket. As dainty as my computers may have become, I still want everything perfect, and right now. My audio experience with my iPhone and hearing aids is not quite what I desire.
To be fair, I do love my hearing aids, and I ought to. A pair of Made For iPhone (MFi) hearing aids can easily cost more than a handful of brand new iPhones. They are way more expensive than my much loved AirPods Pro. In fact, my hearing aids are more than ten times the cost of my AirPods Max, and I didn't think there was anything more expensive than those, presumably, solid gold headphones. However, I own AirPods Pro and AirPods Max because they are capable of doing some wondrous things that my hearing aids just can't do.
Now, as you read along, please know that if you look at my complaints and are saying, "But, wait, my hearing aids do all of that!", then please say so in the comments. I know that I will live longer if I can remove these mild stresses from my life.
So, what drives me bonkers? Just to belabor the obvious one more time, the cost of hearing aids should drive us all nuts. Admittedly, I do want the best possible hearing aids, but gracious they are expensive. OK. I'll stop fussing.
What improvements would I like right now to make my hearing experience even better? I want all phone calls to talk straight into my hearing aids from the moment I answer a call. For the first two years of wearing hearing aids, when I answered the phone, the voice of my caller would instantly sound through my hearing aids. Now, the voice of my caller frequently starts out talking through my iPhone's built-in speaker, and then after a number of seconds, something will mute the voice on the phone and several seconds later transfer the caller to my hearing aids. This is a reasonably recent hiccup, so it could be me, the hearing aid manufacturer, or an issue with Apple. I have discovered a not-so-obvious work-around. In this case, if I just reboot one of my hearing aids before I answer the call, then the incoming call will go directly to my hearing aids. It's a Rube Goldberg solution, but it works.
I'd also prefer that the occasional blasts of very loud static into my hearing aids to disappear for good. Now, I know that many folks with hearing aids had this start happening some time during the early days of iOS 14, if memory serves, as I did report it to both the hearing aid company and to Apple. Apple seemed to acknowledge the problem and a software update took care of 95+ percent of those crazy-loud white noise bursts. However, and granted it may only happen about once a month or so, but I still occasionally have a hearing aid decide to attempt to disintegrate one of my eardrums. Although very infrequent these days, I always react within micro-seconds of a sonic blast and rip the offending hearing aid out of my head. I calmly reboot the hearing aid and all returns to normal. Still, it is unpleasant.
I've also noticed that I no longer seem to be able to pinpoint the direction of the sounds I hear. For the first two years or so, and I started wearing hearing aids on March 18, 2019, I could locate the direction of sounds I would hear through my hearing aids. Now, when walking in my neighborhood, which has no sidewalks, I frequently cannot tell if sounds are coming from ahead of me, behind me, or by my sides. I now feel like more of a physicist, trying to discern the doppler shift of the sound wave forms. Again, I don't know if it is Apple, the hearing aids or just me. I'd like to know though as one of my goals is always to avoid running into anything and that includes moving cars and buses. Thankfully, I have a fantastic guide dog with a strong will to live.
I'd also like to be able to do a few of the things with my hearing aids that I can do with AirPods Pro and with AirPods Max. Luckily for me, I can use both of these Apple products, even when my hearing aids are in my ears. I love being able to instantly stop music or a book when my wife or someone else speaks. Right now, if I am only using my hearing aids, I have to whip my iPhone 12 mini out of my pocket and two-finger double tap that screen over and over again until the phone is properly awake and willing to follow my tactile commands. I suspect I not only appear rude when I take so long to listen to someone talking to me, but also a tad nuts with how often I seem to be frantically tapping my iPhone. And, heaven forbid that I have left my iPhone on my comfy chair arm when I step into the kitchen. If I need to stop the music or answer a call, I have to quickly run back down a short flight of stairs to my living room, grab up the phone and tap-tap-tap-tap until the magic happens. I also have to hope that I will not plow down my poor spouse or dog as I make the mad dash.
And, that's not all! Right now, with my hearing aids, I have to talk into the bottom of my iPhone as my particular brand of hearing aids will not use one of their onboard mics to pick up my voice for the call. I know of one brand that will do that, but have never tried them out. Gee, for the kind of money we spend on our hearing aids, a little two-way communication seems ever so reasonable for this technology.
I'd also like to be able to lower the volume of music playing so that VoiceOver output could actually be louder. There is a very limited capacity to change this on the iPhone, but I'd like even greater control. I'd like music to be really soft in the background and VoiceOver still comfortably loud reading my email. Ducking is useful, but not the solution in this case. That desired feature enhancement, I think, belongs to Apple. And, while I am talking about sound levels, wouldn't it be cool if you could be listening to the voice menu at your local pharmacy and then, as it continues to remind you to hang up and dial 911 or press some other key, if you could actually hear VoiceOver say the name of the buttons as they pass beneath your fingertips? Just asking...
Like the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, I sure would love it if my hearing aids could tell my music and book software to skip forward or skip back. And, just to reiterate, Play and Pause would be grand, too. And, even though I own an AppleWatch, I do not find it a reasonable substitute for quick actions as I have to hear VoiceOver to know when I have finally found the right buttons to press.
I really do love my hearing aids, and I really do love my iPhone 12 mini. I also love both my AirPods Pro and my AirPods Max. I'm a loving sort of guy. Even so, I just want everything to work together so much more smoothly.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a perfect set of devices that makes you deeply happy? Please leave your thoughts about hearing aids and your iPhone in the comments section below.
If you'd rather mention your favorite red wine, that is my backup solution.
This is my twenty-seventh blog for AppleVis. Previous contributions include "Think Dainty: The iPhone 12 mini Kicks Butt," "A Dozen Dozen: Dreaming of iPhone 12 and iOS 14," and "Staying Home: Already A Pro."
And, dear friends, please stay safe and stay healthy.