In 2019 Google made a big announcement for the hearing world. Their new Android 10 operating system now includes Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA).
The ASHA protocol finally allowed Android devices to stream audio directly into hearing aids using Bluetooth Low Energy.
In the years since 2019, most major hearing manufacturers have adopted the ASHA protocol in Bluetooth-style devices. But not all devices are created equal.
In this guide, we’ll look at how Bluetooth streaming in Android devices works along with its limitations.
We’ll also look at several leading Android streaming hearing aids on the market.
First some quick background.
I’ll spare you all the technical details, but a few Bluetooth specifics are important to know. There are two different technical approaches to Bluetooth connection with Android phones.
- ASHA for Android - Designed by Android to connect hearing aids to phones.
- Bluetooth Classic - The same system any headphone uses.
Which connection approach is best for Android users?
Let's take a closer look at both options.
Bluetooth Classic (only available with Phonak and Orka)
- Allows hands-free calling and simultaneous connection to multiple devices like your computer, TV, or car speaker
- Notifications are harder to control and annoying since your phone thinks these hearing aids are regular headphones. Some users complain that an incoming text message shifts the hearing aids out of listening mode for a second and interrupts the flow of conversation or focus
ASHA (available in most other Bluetooth hearing aids)
- Allows for more fine-tuning of notifications
- Requires that you hold your phone close while you stream a call
- Your hearing aids can only connect to one device at a time
What’s the difference between Android and iPhone hearing aid connections?
Both Android and iPhone protocols (MFI and ASHA) are technically very similar, with one major exception. iPhone allows hands-free audio (your hearing aids act as the microphone), and ASHA does not have that capability.
Other helpful resources for Android users.
Not sure if your phone is compatible with hearing aids? Nearly all phones made in the last few years should be compatible. Use the pages below to double check.
If you are trying to connect your Android device to a pair of hearing aids using ASHA, follow these instructions. 👇
- Open your device's Settings app
- Tap Accessibility
- Tap Hearing aids
- Tap Continue
- Tap Pair new device.
- Choose your hearing aid from the list of available devices. Make sure hearing aids are in pairing mode. If you have more than one hearing aid, wait for the first hearing aid to connect, then tap the other hearing aid in the list of available devices. After both are paired, the status displays a message like "Active, left and right."