5 Ways to Make Grandma's Smartphone Smarter

5 Ways to Make Grandma's Smartphone Smarter

Joelle Alcaidinho
Apr 26, 2012

Whether you have a tech loving grandmother like me, or a family member that's a little frightened of their new smartphone, these tips are for you. While my grandmother is at the more savvy end of the tech spectrum, there were certain tips that really helped her to get acquainted with this new technology, and in service to all those who offer tech help to loved ones everywhere, I'm happy to share those tips today.

1. Find the Perfect Case: When it came time to scout out cases, my grandparents naturally went to their local big box store. Sadly, the case that was best suited for their needs was not to be found there, but, thankfully, options that worked perfectly existed online. Don't let your loved one get frustrated over something as simple as a case. Every person is different, but for my grandparents a case that felt and was sturdy and let them have a good grip, like the one shown above, was the right fit.

2. Turn on VoiceOver & Android Eyes-Free: If your loved ones have vision issues, then you should take a look at the vision impaired options offered by their smartphone. For my late grandmother features like VoiceOver were a godsend as without it she'd be unable to use a smartphone since she was legally blind. For others, these features might just make it easier to use the phone without having to reach for their glasses. For more information on vision accessibility for the iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and Android click on the associated links.

3. Start with Good Apps: What do your grandparents like to do? Start them off with great, well designed apps that will help them do this. Regardless of the platform, there are so many app options out there and for a new smartphone user of any age these can be overwhelming. Add in the fact that not all apps are created equal, and someone not familiar with this new technology can make poor app choices and quickly become frustrated. In addition to loading good apps on their phone, show them how you find apps. While your grandmother might not be the tech blog reader that mine is, it's great to share resources to enable them to more easily find new apps independently.

4. Gesture Intro & Help: Gestures really help many, myself included, get more out of their smartphones. While they can be tricky to learn even for the tech savvy, it is worthwhile to teach a few that will be the most helpful. If your loved one is having trouble performing the gestures, take a look at the accessibility options on the smartphone, as they might have something like AssistiveTouch, which helps iPhone users perform gestures using one finger or a stylus.

5. Voice Commands: Although my grandparents can maneuver quite dextrously around a smartphone, they think voice commands are the cat's pajamas. All of the smartphone operating systems have some level of voice command integration and all of them work just a little differently. Take a look at which commands work best and explain how to talk to the phone. When I first told my grandmother she could speak to the phone she started with a very long sentence of commands, and learning the "Phone Language" to a certain extent was quite valuable. Knowing which commands work and which ones don't is not something restricted to the elderly — my partner and I can attest to learning to get in the habit of beginning commands with "Xbox" when speaking to the Xbox

What are some ways that you make your smartphone smarter for yourself or loved ones?

(Image: Flickr member HarryetN licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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