I have been thinking about smartphone applications for people that are a bit up in years, and have come to the conclusion that there isn’t enough designed specifically for the older crowd.
Of course, this does make sense, as the key demographic for an Android smartphone user is probably nineteen to thirty-five, but I want my grandmother’s new purchase to be as useful as possible.
Here are a few applications I have found and what I think they’d be useful for:
Note: before starting to look through these Grandma, log into Play.Google.com with the same Gmail account we set on your phone. Then you can easily install these applications from your web browser instead of from your phone.
Big Launcher – This application is specifically for seniors. It changes the user interface of the phone to something more simplistic. In some ways, it reminds me of Windows Phone tiles, but the important part is that it makes everything larger.
The downsides of this application is that it is $10USD, but it might be worth it if it makes using a smartphone easier on the eyes.
Side note: I have to admit, the robot voice for narration is pretty annoying!
Smart Voice Recorder – A free, simple voice recorder for Android phones. This isn’t the one I currently use, but it is highly rated and has a nifty feature: skip silence. This means if my grandmother needs to just pause in silence to reflect before continuing to record, there won’t be a long, drawn-out blank point in the recording.
She could record stories for her memoires, or just quick things she wants to reflect on later. The hard part is that she’ll have to remember to listen to the recordings or transfer them somewhere to be transcribed.
The Weather Network – An easy way to see the weather with this free application, it isn’t as pretty as some, but it comes from a source that my grandmother already knows and trusts and the UI looks reasonably easy to use.
Now she won’t have to keep it on the Weather Network channel for half an hour to get an update on the hourly, daily and weekly forecast.
Facebook – With almost all of her grandchildren on Facebook, it would be nice to share updates and information with her faster. Currently, things like e-mail and Facebook are pull things, where she has to remember to go and visit them to see updates.
With an application like this, we could push updates and information to her. One of the easiest ways to organize family events is to do so on Facebook, and now we won’t have to hunt her down through other methods to have her see an invitation.
Tiny Flashlight – I don’t know if I had a chance to install a flashlight application on her phone before it powered down, from its tiny “starter” charge, but I can’t even count the number of times it has been useful to have a flashlight wherever I am. It turns on the LED flash for taking pictures to use as a flashlight. It can be useful for my grandmother to increase the contrast on something like a pill bottle for easier reading, or just searching for that thing she’s dropped.
I used to think it was silly to have, but now I couldn’t imagine life without it. And it is another free application, so there isn’t any point to not have it.
Cineplex – A free application to check out what movies are playing nearby without going onto your computer or checking the newspaper? Why not just add this. You can even add your Scene card to track your points.
Barcode Scanner – Want information about a barcode or QR code that you’ve seen in the world, you can use this application to scan that barcode or QR code and search the Internet or bring up a webpage about what you’ve found.
This isn’t always as useful as you think it would be as it doesn’t have a built-in database of barcodes, but because it is free and easy to use, it might be handy.
Yahoo Mail – I think my grandmother is one of the last Gmail holdouts, and so she needs to install this application to receive her e-mail on her cell phone. Usually, or at least it was the case with Gmail, the native application is better than the built-in mail client that ships with Android.
Configure this, and you’ll receive notifications of e-mails while you are out an about. No more having to remember to go to your computer, unless you find them too uncomfortable to read on your cellphone screen.
Checkout 51 – I haven’t tried this application myself, but the concept is cool. Instead of bringing coupons to the store, you just check their directory of coupons, buy the product, scan your receipt, and they’ll credit your account the difference. Once you have twenty dollars in your account, they cut you a cheque. Plenty of good reviews, and no more holding up the line. Could be neat to try out.
Color Note – A free, easy to use notepad to take notes on your phone. Need I say more? This is the one I use, and I find it sufficient. It does some weird things like putting your cursor where you touch, no matter what, but that’s okay. Great for quick note taking.
Where’s My Droid – Lost your phone in your house, or purse? Don’t know where it went? Install this, and then go through and set it up. You can then use another cell phone or web browser to text your phone and get it to make noise or respond back with where the phone is, even if you have the phone muted, or the GPS turned off. The free version works well enough, and I’ve used this on my phone before to figure out where it is. I just go to Bell’s web text messaging site and send myself the pre-configured message and my phone begins to ring.
Yelp – Need to look at food options? What’s local and what’s good? Maybe you want to try something new? This is a great way to find out what restaurants are like locally. A free application, includes reviews of all kinds of places, making decisions easier.
Doubly helpful if you travel outside your home town.
My Data Manager – You don’t really need this because you are using Wind Mobile and will probably never leave one of their home zones, but it doesn’t hurt to have your own application to track how much data you are sending over your cellular connection. Hopefully, by now, you’ve hooked up your phone to your home Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to solely use cellular data to send and receive web pages and whatnot.
My Digital Clock Widget – Simple, big and looks decent. I don’t remember if your phone had a clock widget on it, but it would be much easier to read than the little on in the top corner. Get this if you don’t already have one.
Dropbox – Get a free 2GB account on their website, and then get this application and attach it to your phone. It will make it easy for you to both get things off of and onto your phone. Want to share a picture? Don’t e-mail it to everyone, upload it from your phone to dropbox and share the link.
Magnifying Glass – You don’t really need an application for this. You can take a picture of something and then zoom in on the picture, but if you are having issues doing that, this might make it easy. A free application that is all about magnifying things for you.
Days Left – Need a bold reminder of an event coming up? Lose track of days sometimes? This is a great little app for your phone to help you remember. And again, free to install, so why not?
Pill Reminder – I was going to suggest a pill reminder application, but they all looked overly complex, and most of them didn’t even have the control that the built-in alarm application has. Hopefully, my grandmother will take the time to set-up some alarms.
If anyone else has suggestions on applications that might be useful to my grandmother, please let me know. She’s rocking a Motorola Razr V Android device.