From the GRAY Side: What Older iUsers Want

As I enter my senior years, I am more attentive to age-related things. I watch how older users compensate for age deterioration: oral repetition, word association, and finger counting. iDevices should consider compensatory changes relative to older people: easier-to-use function keys, simpler operating procedures, larger fonts, and more focused menus to name a few suggestions.

Recently I attended a smartphone workshop at my local library. I attended the workshop to polish my own iPhone skills thinking that “older” people can use all the help they can get with these electronic devices. I thought this social group lacks the facility and acuity of younger users. Man, were my eyes opened!

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The majority of workshop attendees were seniors; but to my great surprise, they were far more tuned in to the new world of technology than I had given them credit. I owe them an apology, big time. These people are very aware of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, along with other communications and productivity apps such as Face Time, Skype, Photos, and Photoshop. About the only thing they do not readily share with the younger generation is patience. Seniors see time as being too precious to be wasted. Therefore, they are reluctant to use apps with steep learning curves; though they are as capable of learning as any other group if they see a need to do so. Every app is evaluated from the "value to me" perspective: “What good is it for me? How will it improve my communication with my children and/or grandchildren? How will it impact my budget?” I was surprised to hear how this older group monitors data usage on their phones and its related costs. Even more surprising, they were constructively critical of many social networking apps: Skype or Face Time ranked much higher in value than Facebook, which was viewed as a time waster rather than an effective communications tool. In their view, Twitter was also of limited value because of its text limitation.

My new view of my fellow seniors is that they are far more astute and tuned in to the new electronic world than I first thought. Given this new outlook, I will be writing about apps that really meet the needs and goals of older people. Like many users, seniors also want the quickest, easiest, and biggest bang for their buck but they want this now; not because they are impatient, far from it. They want to get the most out of their RT (remaining time.) Hence, they do not want iDevices or iDevice apps that may waste any of their precious time. 

With my new outlook in mind, here is my first review "from the gray side!”


Alarmed – Reminders + Timers (free)

4.5 out of 5 stars

This app is much more than its appearance suggests. It is more than a simple alarm clock and it does what it is supposed to do very effectively and practically. It is two apps in one: a reminder and a timer. It is simple to use, with a straightforward and quick setup for either the reminder or the timer alarms. One chooses whether they want a reminder for some future event or if they want an alarm to signal the passage of a certain amount of time.

iPhone Screenshot 1

The Reminder

Setting up a reminder is a simple task. Choose the Reminder icon and then the + symbol. Enter the information for your reminder—a useful title, the date and time for the alarm to notify you—and press Done. That’s it. Simple, clean, and very efficient.

The Timer

Similarly, the timer feature of the app is as easy to set up and use. Choose the Timer icon and then the + symbol. Using the scale at the bottom of the screen, scroll in the needed allotment of time, add in a descriptive title, and press Done. Your timer is set; nothing could be easier.

The app does have some additional bells and whistles but none are crucial nor do any need to be used. You can view a history of completed Reminders and/or currently active Timers; you can choose the sound of your alarm; and that is about it.

The app allows for some personal customization and even includes a user manual — many people feel more secure with a built-in manual readily at hand.

I have used numerous reminder/alarm/timer apps, many of which have nice added features like color, or priority designation, but none gives more bang for the buck than this one.

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Richard Szpin's BMW has become the WWW. His motorcycling passion has taken him from central Canada to Newfoundland, Vancouver, Martha’s Vineyard, Deal’s Gap, North Carolina, and New Orleans. He has ridden to many great north American cities and written about it. Now he rides the web and is learning to blog about his adventures at <a href=""></a>