Making your smartphone easier to use

Sunrise Senior Living  |  October 3, 2016

Here's how to make a smartphone a bit easier to use.

A smartphone is a powerful tool, and is easy to use, especially for those who have limited experience with technology. The most popular devices also have a number of built-in settings or downloadable apps that are beneficial for older adults. Here are a few settings and tips to consider:

Larger text font
Guiding Tech found that perhaps the most efficient way to make a smartphone easier to use is to enable Larger Text in the settings section. Most types of smartphone have this feature, and in this way you can toggle between font sizes for text messages, displays and in-app presentations. Larger text can help those with limited vision. A brighter display and bigger font makes for less squinting and strain on the eyes. There are also ways to turn on a magnifying function, which can be especially useful with larger text.

VoiceOver
Your smartphone can read text messages, emails and other items out loud, which is sometimes more straightforward than tinkering with font sizes. This can be enabled in the settings section. Using the Speak Selection under the Accessibility tab makes it so entire passages from an article or book can be read aloud.

Personal assistant
A smartphone can do much more than just read texts. By using a device's digital personal assistant, a user can use plain English to complete simple tasks and access information. This tool can also set reminders, alarms, take notes and search the web. Different types of phones have different built in tools, but each can handle most basic tasks.

Simplify notifications
Banners and pop-up notifications from all sorts of apps can be managed or eliminated entirely. This is an easy way to make a smartphone feel less overwhelming. Otherwise, constant reminders and prompts can make a device feel too involved and unnecessary. 

Pick the right phone
The Huffington Post found that there are also specific devices that are geared to users who want a simpler smartphone experience. These are perfect for those who may not be interested in some of the more advanced features of a traditional smartphone. For standard models, "Easy" or "Simple" mode can be enabled and achieve the same results.

A little practice
Smartphones are designed to be intuitive and simple to use, and older people can easily master these devices. If needed, family members or friends may sit and spend some time working with an elderly loved one to build familiarity.