Technology for the hard of hearing has come a long way these days. Now, you can get hearing aids made specifically for Apple devices.
Made for iPhone (MFI) hearing aids and devices connect directly to your iPhone, iPad, or any other supported Apple device via Bluetooth. This makes it easier for the hard of hearing to answer calls, stream audio, and complete more audio-related tasks on their devices.
Although at this time the Apple Watch does not officially support any hearing aids, there are some ways to get your Apple Watch to work with your MFI hearing aids.
Keep reading to learn more.
- How to play background ambient sounds on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 15
- How to use the Noise app on your Apple Watch to protect your hearing
- Apple researchers publish a paper outlining data collection methods and more for the Apple Hearing Study
- Apple Watch Gesture offerings could expand in future
Which hearing aids are compatible?
First, it’s important to know that your MFI hearing aids do not pair directly to the your Apple Watch (at least not yet.)
Instead, you connect them via Accessibility Settings on your iPhone and then open your hearing aid manufacturer’s companion app and connect the hearing aids there.
So it’s important to install the hearing aid manufacturers companion app on your iPhone and watch before using your hearing aids with the Apple Watch.
On top of that, not every hearing aid is MFI (Made for iPhone.) Look for Bluetooth hearing aids and then check that your preferred model is compatible with Apple devices and listed as Made for iPhone (MFI.) The good news is that most brands now offer a good variety of MFI hearing aids to choose from!
Using Made for iPhone hearing aids allows you to access a lot of features, including streaming audio directly to the hearing aids from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and sometimes even your Apple Watch.
You can also stream phone and FaceTime calls to your hearing aids from iPhone and iPad. If you have a compatible iPhone or iPad, and compatible hearing aids, you can enjoy direct hands-free communication — without using any other device.
Additionally, many manufacturers recommend or even require you to download their companion app to access all the advanced features for your MFI hearing aids. So make sure you review the requirements for your make and model.
Brands like ReSound, Oticon, Widex, Siemps, Advance, HHM, and more make MFI hearing aids. However, not all these brands models work best with an Apple Watch.
Oticon, ReSound ONE, Starkey, and Widex hearing aids are the hearing aids that are most compatible with the Apple Watch. These manufacturers recommend that you install the companion app onto your iPhone and your watch to get the most functionality.
- For the current list of compatible MFI hearing aids that are MFI (Made for iPhone), see this Apple document.
- To find out if your hearing aid manufacture supports Apple Watch directly, see this Apple document and look at the section To use the Made for iPhone hearing devices, you need one of these devices. Look for Apple Watch models. As noted previously, no Apple Watches are officially supported at this time. But it will change!
Finally, any phone calls your receive or make with the Apple Watch use the watch’s speaker and microphone. It cannot send the audio to your hearing aids (at least not at this time.)
And yes, we don’t understand why this is still an issue! The fact that you still can’t answer or make phone calls on the Apple Watch using your MFI hearing aids is a huge oversight on Apple’s part.
How to connect MFI hearing aids
Remember that at this time, you cannot directly connect MFI hearing aids to an Apple Watch. You need your iPhone to connect your hearing aids to your Apple Watch.
As long as you pair them to your supported Apple device, i.e. your iPhone that is connected to your watch, you should be able to control them from the watch (as long as your manufacture supports the Apple Watch through their companion app.)
Also note, that you should only need to pair your hearing aids once. After that, your hearing devices automatically reconnect to iPhone or other supported Apple device whenever you turn them on.
- To connect your MFI hearing aids to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, go to the Settings app and select Bluetooth to make sure it is turned on.
- If your iPhone, iPad, or iPod is currently playing music or any other audio, temporarily pause it.
- After that, go back to the main menu in the Settings app and scroll down to select Accessibility. Scroll down to Hearing, then tap Hearing Devices.
- Wait for your iPhone show the name of your hearing aid in MFI Hearing Devices. For example, Kaitlin’s Hearing Aids or John’s Hearing Aids.
- If your that name does not appear in the devices list within 10-15 seconds, tap Accessibility in the upper left corner, then again tap Hearing Devices.
- Follow the manufacturer instructions to turn you hearing aids into its pairing mode. For some, this means turn your hearing aids off and then back on. For others, close the battery doors on your hearing aids.
- Look for the pairing request for your hearing aids to pair them. Tap Pair to initiate the pairing.
- It may take a minute or two for them to connect. Once they’re connected you should see a checkmark or the word Connected next to their name.
- Now, go to Settings > Accessibility > Hearing Devices > Audio Routing and set Call Audio and Media Audio to Automatic or Always Hearing Devices.
- Finally, open the manufacturer’s Apple Watch app and see if it recognizes and connects to your hearing aids.
Things to keep in mind
If you have your hearing aids connected to multiple devices, be mindful that they may switch between those devices based on which one you are using.
If your hearing aid brand also makes an app for your devices, it may be a good idea to download that app!
Also, if you want any shortcuts on your devices for your hearing aids, you can do that!
You can typically add your hearing aids or your hearing aids companion app to an Apple Watch complication to your watch face. Or you can add them to your devices’ control center.
To add your hearing aid to your device’s control center go to the Settings app and select Control Center. Tap Customize Controls and then click Add Hearing.
These shortcuts make accessing them so much easier!
Want Apple to add direct hearing aid support to the Apple Watch?
If you want your hearing aids to take calls directly on your Apple Watch through your hearing aids or have other needs, please consider adding your feedback to Apple via this feedback site.
Using Apple’s feedback site is the best way to get your feature requests to Apple.
The technology is improving so fast!
Apple is really invested in improving accessibility for its products, including Apple Watch. So we fully expect more features and refinements in MFI hearing aid technology in the coming year and years.
So stay tuned.