How to Make Android SmartPhones Friendly for Older Users
Interested in using a smartphone because you want to check email, see grandchildren’s pictures, and reconnect with friends on Facebook? Annoyed at the fact that everyone’s expecting you to need nothing more than a Jitterbug cellphone?
There are a number of Android options and apps that make Android smartphones accessible to older users.
The Android and Droid smartphones may not be ready to use right out of the box, but with several tweaks and app additions you can make most Android smartphones easier to use.
If you are unfamiliar with the Android platform, you may need help to get your Android device ready to go, but the step by step instructions should help most users get set up on their own.
When you go to pick out an Android smartphone, it is important to try out several options to find the device that best fits your needs. Unlike the iPhone, there are many different sizes and options available. It will come down to personal preference, but older users may enjoy devices with bigger, high-resolution screens or physical keyboards. Here are a few options to consider
- Samsung Infuse 4G – Large 4.5″ display and fast download speeds.
- Motorola Droid 3 – 4″ display and a physical keyboard.
- HTC ThunderBolt – 4.3″ display and a kickstand for keeping the phone upright without holding on to it and fast 4G download speeds.
- Motorola Droid X 2 – high-resolution 4.3″ display that is easy to read outdoors
These are only a few of the Android phones available. You can visit individual Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile stores; or head to Best Buy to get a look at phones from several carriers at the same time. Keep in mind that you may be able to get a better deal on new phones by ordering from WireFly.com.
How To Customize Android for Older Users
The following settings and apps should work on virtually any Android device available at major cell phone companies. As you test out devices in the store, you should be able to test these settings and apps out. Don’t expect the salesperson to know how to make all of these changes, so you may want to print this out if you don’t already have a smartphone to look this up on at the store.
The following changes are made in the Display menu area. To get there, press Menu, Settings and then Display. Each of these settings can be found in this area.
Brightness – Most of the time Android devices are set to automatic brightness to conserve battery life. If you need your phone to be brighter or dimmer, you can uncheck automatic brightness and drag the slider to the level you want. The higher it is, the less battery life you will have.
Auto Rotation – If your phone is always rotating when you want to do something, you can turn off auto rotate by tapping on Auto-rotate screen to remove the checkbox.
Screen Timeout – If you constantly find the phone screen turning off while you are using it, you can tap on Screen timeout and choose the time you want to use to keep the screen active. Longer time periods will result in lower battery life.
How to Change Font Sizes on Android
You can set the font sizes for many of the common apps you will use, but you cannot set them for the entire system on most Android devices.
Gmail Font Size – Launch Gmail, Press Menu, More, Settings. Tap the account you want to change, choose Message text size, and then pick a size you want. This will change the size of the font in your messages, but not on the actual subject information in your inbox.
Browser Font Size – Open your Browser – Press Menu, More, Settings. Tap Set Text size and choose the size you want.
Kindle and eReaders – You can adjust the font size of Kindle and other ebook readers. To do this in Kindle, Open the Kindle app, then open a book and tap Menu. Tap on View Options and choose your font size.
How to Turn On Accessibility Options in Android
TalkBack - TalkBack is a free app which allows your Android smartphone to read text to you. You can see an example of this in the video below. We recommend testing this app out on a phone you want before you buy to make sure it performs well on your device.
SoundBack - Adds sounds to some places where TalkBack doesn’t have sound available.
These apps, tweaks and changes may make Android a viable option for older users who want to stay connected as they age. Android may not be for everyone, so look for a guide on how to make the iPhone more friendly for older users soon.