The new iPad 2 officially went on sale last Friday, and thanks to Carl Burnstein, I had a chance to get some first-hand experience with the new iPad. As I was oooing and aaahhing over the tech, I came to appreciate some major advantages that the iPad offers to seniors.
1. Touch Screen
Limitations in hand dexterity can make it extremely challenging for seniors to control a mouse. It often takes a lot of time and practice for older seniors to become accustomed to a mouse. There are som pretty great training resources out there like Senior Net’s Mouse Training and the City of Seattle’s online mouse training. Still, there are times when training is simply not enough to help seniors cope with dexterity and mouse control challenges. The alternative has often been teaching older seniors key board short cuts to help reduce the need for a mouse. But the iPad changes all this. The iPad’s touch screen makes it extremely easy for seniors to control the device. Launching a program is as easy as tapping large, easily visible icons — a much more senior friendly alternative to controlling a mouse. Websites can easily be enlarged by using the pinch-out zoom feature. This is a powerful capability for seniors, as it allows them to instantly increase characters and text to an easily readable size.
2. Extremely Easy to Share Photos
The iPad makes it extremely easy to email photos and to save photos received via email. This ease of use boils down to one notable characteristic of the iPad — it lacks an accessible file structure. This is often perceived as a major downside for techies. But for seniors, the hidden file structure poses a significant strength.
To email a photo, you locate the picture in your Photos app, tap the “send” menu option and tap email photo. To save a photo you’ve received via email, just click the attachment and an option window will pop up (see right). Then tap “Save Image” and presto, the picture is automatically saved to your “Photos” app.
The lack of a visible file structure means that seniors can easily save and send pics via email without having to tell the computer whether the photo is located (or should be saved to) the desktop, my documents, my computer, etc. Also, when downloading photos, some users’ pictures might end up in a temp folder or in a downloads folder — this can make it challenging for many people to find and retrieve downloaded files.
3. The iPad 2 is Skype Ready
More and more seniors are using Skype to stay connected to loved ones. With the iPad 2 front camera, seniors no longer need to deal with hooking up a web cam to their computers. Getting Skype ready involves setting up an account and downloading the Skype app. Thats it.
Seniors Appreciate the iPad
The iPad isn’t just a trendy piece of technology. Seniors are seeing real benefits. Just a few days ago, Elder Gadget shared a video of seniors living at Balfour Senior Living in Louisville, Colorado who are finding uses for the iPad. Here’s the video…
With all it’s advantages (many of which aren’t even touched on in this post), the iPad does pose some disadvantages for seniors — most of which are directly tied to passwords. Each time a user downloads a new app, s/he needs to enter in a password. Also, the iPad’s browser does not have password memory capabilities. This could pose a hefty disadvantage for older seniors who may have difficulties remembering passwords.
Many thanks to Paul Burnstein for brainstorming with me the advantages and disadvantages of iPads for senior.