7 Ways to Make Using a Smartphone Easier for Elderly Users | #android | #security


  • There are a variety of ways to make smartphone use easier for an elderly person.
  • Some easy tweaks include increasing text size, enlarging the keyboard, and configuring the lock screen.
  • Here are seven ways to optimize iPhones and Androids for elderly users.

Not everyone is comfortable with technology, and whether it’s the small text, complexity of the user interface (UI), or simply that the interface has a habit of changing with every new OS update, elderly users are often the least comfortable with smartphones.

Smartphone makers take older users into consideration, though, so you can accommodate your parents’ or grandparents’ needs with some easy tweaks. Here are seven ways to make an iPhone or Android phone easier for the elderly. 

Make text more readable

As we age, it gets harder to read small text. To address that issue, both iPhones and Android phones let you tweak the size of screen text. 

On an iPhone, start the Settings app and then tap Accessibility. Tap Display & Text size to configure not just the text size (via the Larger Text option), but also make text bold, increase contrast, and a variety of other readability settings. 

The Display & Text size settings on iPhone.

You can make text bigger and bolder for older users who have trouble reading the screen.

Dave Johnson


For Android, start the Settings app and tap Accessibility. Then tap Text and display to set text size, bold the text, enable high-contrast mode, and more. 

Enlarge the on-screen keyboard

Just like the on-screen text, you might need to make the keyboard bigger for readability. 

On the iPhone, start the Settings app and choose Display & Brightness. Tap View and then choose Zoomed. This is something of a two-for-one; it not only enlarges the keyboard, but makes most other UI elements, like buttons and controls somewhat larger as well. 

For Android users, start any app that uses the keyboard so you can see the keyboard on screen. Tap the Settings icon (shaped like a gear) atop the keyboard. Tap Preferences, then Keyboard height. Choose an option like Mid-tall, Tall, or Extra-tall

Keyboard size preferences on Android.

You can make the keyboard keys larger so they’re easier targets for elderly fingertips.

Dave Johnson


Configure the lock screen

If you’re setting up a phone for older users, you might be inclined to skip the passcode and leave the phone unlocked for simplicity. The risk of data theft is simply too great, though, so do the next best thing: Set up the lock screen using both biometric (fingerprint or face identification) and a four-digital passcode you trust that they’ll be able to remember. 

On the iPhone, start the Settings app, then tap Face ID & Passcode to add Face ID, Touch ID, or passcodes. 

The Face ID & Passcode settings on iPhone.

Don’t fall for the temptation to leave a phone for older users unlocked.

Dave Johnson


For Android users, start the Settings app, then tap Security followed by Screen lock. Avoid setting longer passcodes or using a pattern, which can be difficult for some elderly to memorize. 

Organize the Home screen 

No matter how much of a smartphone champion you are, you have to admit that the number of apps installed on the average phone can be overwhelming. And without stereotyping older users, it’s fair to say that most don’t need that many apps. That means you can help your elderly user by organizing the Home screen with just the most important apps they’ll regularly use, and you can further put only a few apps on each page, organized by category. 

Both iPhone and Android let you arrange apps by dragging them around the screen, and you can remove the ones you don’t think will get much use without deleting them, so they’re still installed in case they’re later needed. On the iPhone, tap and hold an app icon until everything starts to wiggle. Tap the minus sign and then choose Remove from Home Screen. For Android, tap and hold an app icon until the edit page appears, then drag the icon to the Remove button at the top of the screen.    

Organizing the home screen on an Android phone.

You can remove apps to declutter the screen without uninstalling them.

Dave Johnson


Set up favorites

For many elderly users, the less time they have to spend finding things on the phone, the better — so be sure to pin voice call and texting favorites. 

On the iPhone, you can pin the most important contacts in the Messages app to the top of the app by starting Messages and then tapping the three-dot icon at the top of the screen. Tap Edit pins and then tap the yellow Pin icon to add a name to the top. To pin a contact to the Favorites page of the Phone app, start Phone and go to the Favorites tab. Tap the Plus at the top of the screen, then find the person you want to favorite in the contact list. 

Pinning contacts in the iPhone Messages app.

You can pin important contacts to the top of the Messages screen.

Dave Johnson


On Android, to pin a contact to the top of the Messages app, start the Messages app and then tap and hold the conversation you want to pin. Tap the Pin icon at the top of the screen. You can also create favorites in the Phone: Start the Phone app and tap Favorites. Tap Add at the top of the screen and add entries from the contacts list. 

Set up custom ringtones for special callers

If you want to help an older user distinguish important calls, such as from health care providers or family members, you can change the ringtone for specific contacts. 

On the iPhone, start the Contacts app and then tap the person you want to customize. Tap Edit and then tap Ringtone. You can specify any ringtone you prefer. 

The process is similar for Android. Start the Contacts app and tap the person you want to edit. Tap the three-dot menu at the top right and choose Set ringtone from the dropdown menu. 

Editing a contact in the Android Contacts app.

Set custom ringtones for important contacts.

Dave Johnson


Make it easy to find emergency and medical information

Both Apple and Google make it easy to add medical and emergency info to your phone, which can be critical if emergency responders need to know an elderly person’s medical details in a hurry. 

On the iPhone, you can find this info on the lock screen by tapping Emergency, then Medical ID. To actually fill in these details, start the Health app and tap the user profile photo at the top right. Tap Medical ID and then either tap Get Started or Edit to add or update your information. 

The Health app on iPhone.

You can set custom health and emergency contact info for the lock screen in the Health app.

Dave Johnson


To find emergency information on Android phones, open the lock screen and tap Emergency Call. Then, on the call screen, tap View emergency info. To complete these emergency details, tap the Settings app, then Safety & emergency. Here you’ll find sections for Medical information, Emergency contacts, and more.



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