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I just started wearing hearing aids (ReSound LiNX Quattro). My audiologist says that the Android developers are working on a solution that would allow me to stream audio content (music, calls, etc.) directly to my hearing aids. I am surprised that IOS has allowed this for years and Android doesn't have it yet.

Presently, my hearing aid app silently connects to my aids via Bluetooth and allows me to control them. I am able to use the Bluetooth control panel to pair the phone (LG Stylo 3) to the aids, but then my app can't pair to them. Even when the phone is paired to the aids, I can't stream audio to them.

What is the status of this feature for Android? Will it be rolled out as part of a new version of the OS (such as Q or R)?

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So from what I can determine:

  • Google announced native support for hearing aids with a specification called ASHA
  • Based on this article on XDA Developers, it appears that only Pixel devices are enabled in AOSP, but that doesn't mean that manufacturers can't enable it for their own devices.
  • Looking at the ASHA specification it looks like a new service on top of the Bluetooth Low Energy specification with additional implementation details for Bluetooth 5.

So what does this mean to the average user:

  • Google Pixel devices with Android P and up would be the first set of devices which would support the ASHA protocol.
  • Hearing aid manufacturers would need to support it via a software update or would need to release devices with compatible Bluetooth chipsets/firmware.
  • Bluetooth support has always been a problematic area for Android (just search for pairing/disconnect issues in your favorite search engine) due to the variety of Bluetooth radio chips used by manufacturers.

So what should you do if you are looking for this feature:

  • Wait for your hearing aid manufacturer to officially announce which devices and phones are supported as they would have done the testing to make sure the feature work. If you have both that means it should work. If you have a non-listed phone that has Android P and up, and you have a hearing aid with the new software, it may work or it may not.

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