Friday, December 23, 2016

Setting Up Smartphones for Seniors

[The following applies to new Android phones, which represent, by far, the largest number of phones in use.  However. much of it also applies to iPhones, and some of it even to Windows phones.

To set up your phone, you need only to bring up this same website <snrtech.org> on the phone itself. The website will conform itself to your small screen. And (once I get the links in place), you will need only to tap on a link to install it, then back up again to install the next app.  If you don't want to wait for the links, you could just print out this webpage, then search and install each app with Play Store!   Simple enough.

Alternatively, if you need to conserve memory on your phone, or speed up apps, or adjust font  size more than permitted by the above installation process, then first install Hermit, especially for the following apps: NPR One, Dropbox, Wikipedia, MSN News, The New York Times, Google News, YouTube, Pandora, Amazon, CBSN News, Skype and Pocket.

Note that the Opera Mini  Browser does some of the same things Hermit does..     It even displays and installs selected apps like GMail.]


I have covered in other postings what a smartphone can do, but what should a senior have it set up to do?


The number one safety priority app for most, for a smartphone phone, for any driver or passenger, should be to set up the Waze application to report traffic and route transportation away from traffic jams.  Waze has saved me from hour long traffic delays which can be hard for a senior driver or passenger.


That simply requires installing the app and providing data (GPS does not require data access, but traffic data does).  Not a lot more data is needed for access to books & music, but these can be kept on the phone, too, and not streamed, if storage space is tight..


Next, it is important to get contacts installed.    If the Chrome browser is used elsewhere, that will be automatic.     Then, contacts can be made entirely with voice commands and no typing!!   Example:  Call Jane.   Text Jane.


Smartphones use both the older phoning tech and newer data services.  Both of these are available at no cost on Wi-Fi. But away from Wi-Fi they are charged separately. Note that texting still uses phoning technology, whereas email uses data.  Figure $10 a gigabyte or a month's moderate data usage.


So!  The next most important thing to do is to be able to phone away from Wi-Fi, using cell tower phoning access, or data services like Skype and Hangouts via their apps.   Install them.     I pay $35 a year to dial phone numbers with Skype, but Hangouts is free.  Both can be video phoning.


Both, phoning or data, services away from WiFi can be obtained cheaply.


If there is a need to access documents, websites and music, away from Wi-Fi, especially frequently, more than basic data access may be needed.


Where the smartphone has enough storage, these may be kept in storage.    If the phone has very limited storage, that may not be possible.  That storage limit also determines how and what apps should be loaded.


Two apps can help save space, and more.    The Hermit app loads other apps in the least amount of space, makes them run more quickly, and reduces the load on the battery.   Where storage is limited, as many apps should be loaded with Hermit as possible.


Additionally, Opera provides a browser which uses data more efficiently.


If there is plenty of storage space, it is desirable to pre-load as much in documents and music as possible.    Otherwise these items need to be streamed and will use data away from WiFi.


With all that established, the next most useful apps for seniors are things like the weather.   I find WeatherBug especially useful with its radar weather maps which advises pictorially what weather is coming.


Then come calendar and to-do list apps, often already installed as received.  I use Wunderlist because it is cross-platform and works with other smart phones than Android, such as iPhones.


Android phones come with many basic Google Apps pre-installed in addition to Google
Calendar.


Very important is that app which connects you to your doctor, such MyChart which works with Lancaster General and also Penn Medicine.


To ease use of the phone, I install Volume in Notifications, which makes it easier to adjust the volume, and I install Autospeaker which makes sure the sound does not get turned down during a phone call.


To access news, I use a number of apps; these include the New York Times, NPR one, MSNnews, CBSN News  (TV Channel), Google News, Greader, and others.  The NYT and New Yorker Daily Briefings can be delivered by email., also Apple Briefing and MSN Briefing.
To read text aloud I use @Voice.


For further reading I use both Kindle and Google Play Books, where I have also installed documents such as instruction manuals and guides and many other pdf documents, such as our local community handbook..


I use both Amazon Music and Google Music for streaming music, having installed my personal library on both.    I use Pandora and Spotify. For radio I use TuneIn.


It is handy to have Microsoft Cortana also available for voice searching in addition to the browser which comes with the phone.  If not already installed, the Chrome browser needs to be added, if only to connect with other devices.


To do writing with voice dictation, I use Google Docs and Google Blogger.


I use YouTube, but sparingly away from Wi-Fi because it uses a lot of data.  However it is my most important resource next to the browser itself in getting information. Next is Wikipedia.


Seniors forget passwords.  I also use StickyPassword to remember my passwords, though Google remembers a lot of them.


The Amazon App handles shopping.   Dropbox keeps  document safely on the cloud.  Pocket keeps selected documents some for later reading.   Evernote keeps notes.


Those are the minimum number of apps I have on my oldest smartphone.


On my newest smartphone, with its large expanded memory, the sky's the limit. Most users get up to about a hundred, heavy users get to about 200 apps, and real techies run as many as 300 different apps on their phone.


It is important to note that to conserve space you only need to have the app on your phone when you need to use it and can load it only when needed if absolutely necessary.


As for more advanced users...

I use Kasa with Alexa to control the lights in our apartment. and fing to help with connecting devices like printers.   I use printer apps for my particular printers in order to print from my phone.    They work well via my router.

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