I recently purchased my first hearing aid, a made for iPHONE model sold by Costco as the Kirkland Signature KS8. My American dollars price was $1599, basically ssixteen hundred dollars. Costco also has warehouse stores in the U.K. and Australia and probably other countries as well.
The KS 8 is identical to the Signia Pure 312 7Nx. Spec sheets and manuals are the same except for the name change. Apparently Costco, which has 11% share of the hearing aid market has enough buying power to get Rexton to rebrand and reduce the price for them.
"Made For iPHONE" (MFI) means that they will stream audio from the phone as well as use the headset protocol to make calls. They can use the headset protocol on Android too, but for Android, streaming is done through the A2DP protocol which typically isn't supported by hearing aids.
On the iPHONE the MFI protocol is used -- this is a proprietary Bluetooth low-energy profile that is designed by Apple, and thus only available on Apple certified devices. For us, this means that you can hear VoiceOver through the hearing aids.
There is a tiny bit of latency with the KS8 paired with the iPHONE, but it wasn't annoying enough for me to go back to my clumsier bluetooth earpiece. With Bluetooth on, you simply go to settings-general-accessibility-hearing and pair it there -- similar to pairing a Braille display under Voiceover's settings.
One hitch was that as soon as it thought it paired, but before I could choose OK, the audio switched to the hearing aids, which my audiologist was holding, since he insisted on showing me how to pair them. Thus I stopped being able to hear voiceover. So wear the aids before you pair!
Another annoyance is that though I had the accessibility shortcut (tripple click home) set to Voiceover, it now wanted to add switching the hearing aid on and off to the accessibility menu. But I removed that so now the accessibility shortcut now only calls up Voiceover.
It is also possible to stream music, or TV or audio books through the hearing aid once it is paired. Actually once it is paired everything streams through it. For music with high fidelity, you loose some of it because a hearing aid program emphasizes some frequencies. So for me all the music sounded like it had too much trebble. But I can get the audiologist to create a separate music program for my hearing aids so music will sound more natural.
However with audio books and podcasts, especially those with lower fidelity the extra trebble made the voices far clearer for me. For example NLS BARD books mastered originally from open-reel tapes often don't have the highest audio quality and were easier for me to hear on the iPHONE with the BARD app and my aids rather than the NLS library-supplied player.
There are two apps for using the KS8. You get links to them from the KS8 user portal linked below.
They are resonably usable but not fully accessible; getting sighted help to identify the unlabeled buttons is a timesaver though not necessary. The apps are ""Smart Direct" which gives you control of the aid and "Smart remote" which lets you use your iPHONE as a remote mic. The idea is that someone speaking to you could talk in to your iPHONE's microphone and you could hear them more clearly. I do not have enough hearing loss to need this app, but I tried it by placing the iPHONE near my VR Stream, and listening from another room -- worked great. Actually iOS now has a feature called "live listen" which does the same thing, so I still have to test whether the app is actually necessary.
The Smart Direct app lets you adjust volume, balance and bass and trebble, plus switch between programs -- settings your hearing professional has configured inside the aid's firmware. It also tells you your battery strength.
Overall I'm super pleased with this purchase. You can find many online reviews that cover this aid so I just covered its use with Voiceover here.
The place to get the manuals and how-tos from Costco:
Blog post about the new aids with many comments.
Information about hearing support from Apple:
Apple's support page for using MFI hearing aids: