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Stop giving your unwanted technology to an elderly loved one. It may not help as much as you think

Old people with smartphones

Getty Images / Geber86

In addition to their regular work, many ZDNET readers can act as unofficial CIOs for their family and friends, offering advice on purchasing, setting up, using, and maintaining all of their devices. consumer technology suite.

A particular concern for these tech-savvy people — let’s call them ‘Family Information Officers’ (FIOs) — is getting the older generation (65+) involved and comfortable. comfortable using digital devices and software to interact with a world that is rapidly disappearing alternative analog routes.

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Banking is a prime example: as society becomes increasingly cashless and banks close more and more traditional branches, the pressure to switch to a digital version increases.

Health care is another matter: access to health services is rapidly shifting online through mobile apps and websites, at the risk of excluding underprivileged older adults. smart devices or internet access, or confidence and know-how in their use. One particular fault of mine is the diverse and ambiguous nature of many parking apps, as well as the lack of popular cash or card options.

While most tech companies strive to make their products as usable as possible, few explicitly take people over 65 into account. In addition, the relentless pursuit of more features and functions in most devices continually adds to both pricing and user experience issues for older adults.

A technology company for the older generation based in Austria Emporia, was founded in 1991 and currently operates in more than 30 European countries. Emporia offers a wide range of landline phone, smartphones and feature phones, and accessory. In 2022, the company added a Android tablet into my portfolio and also launched my first product smart watchoriginally in Germany.

According to Emporia, 52 million people in Europe still do not have an internet connection, including 9.6 million in the UK. And of the roughly 13 million people over 65 in the UK, less than 40% own a smartphone, the company said. So there’s a lot of addressable markets for a company with the right mix of age-related products and services.

The company argues that, across Europe, about 50 million people over the age of 65 are excluded from digital applications because they do not own or know how to use a smartphone or tablet.

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Chris Millington, Emporia UK MD

Chris Millington, managing director at Emporia Telecom UK & Ireland.

Image: Emporia

At a press event in November 2022, Chris Millington, Emporia’s chief executive officer for the UK and Ireland, outlined one reason why things can go bad with a smartphone. for the elderly. He calls it ‘Hand Me Upping’.

This happens when younger family members give their old phones to their parents or grandparents to help them stay connected digitally.

“So they give them a phone that’s two or three years old and is no longer updated or supported, doesn’t work with banking apps and doesn’t have an easy-to-use interface and doesn’t work. .

Adding to the problem is the rapid evolution of mobile technology, which means that younger generations quickly forget how things work on older devices, making it difficult for them to support older users alone. effectively. It’s better, says Millington, to “recycle or trade in used smartphones and look at a suitable product geared towards the needs and desires of adult users.”

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Emporia offers entry-level/low-cost mobile hardware with three layers of age-friendly usability: simplified user interface, printed and most recent training books, Coach — a training app.

Emporia’s UI overlays sits on top of Android on their smartphones and tablets, and offers large, clearly labeled, customizable buttons that point to key apps and functions — unlike Android Simple Mode. This is the main screen on 10.1 inch Emporia Tablet:

Emporia Tablet home screen

Screenshot: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

And here is the list of All Apps on 5.5 inch screen Smart Emporia 5 phone:

Emporia Smart 5 List of all apps

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

There’s no customization when you’re using regular Android apps, other than a bar at the top with a large Back button and icons for accessing the home screen and swiping through recently used apps.

Also: The best old phones to buy (because new isn’t always the best)

The second usability factor is an unusual sight these days: a printed book that goes beyond the traditional manual (also available), covering everything from setting up the device and connecting to Wi-Fi , to sections on Google Play Store and the internet, email and messaging, social networking, photo and video, video calling, streaming with YouTube and basic apps.

Emporia Training Book

Emporia’s training book for its Tablet.

Image: Charles McLellan / ZDNET

The book was hugely popular with Emporia’s target user base, Millington said, acknowledging that it was expensive and the content didn’t change.

Coach Emporia

Image: Google / Emporia

The new one Coach the app is designed to solve these problems, offers a 30 day training course that offers many lessons in easy to understand daily chapters, with lots of gamification to make the process enjoyable and attractive. Learning can proceed at the user’s pace, with repeated use helping to build confidence with the device. The beginner course comes pre-installed on Emporia Smart devices, with further courses available for download.

Here are some of Emporia’s flagship products.

operating system Android 10 | Screen 4.95 inches, 480 x 960 | microprocessor Mediatek MTK6739 | smack 3GB | Warehouse 32GB | Network 2G/3G/4G LTE | Wireless Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), NFC, GPS | Connections & ports USB-C, 3.5mm audio out, MicroSD card slot | camera 5MP (front), 13MP (rear) | Battery capacity 2500mAh (removable) | Battery life 170 hours standby, 550 minutes talk time | Accessory charging base, battery cover (with/without emergency button) | Dust/water resistant IP54 | size 66mm x 138mm x 11mm | Weight 160g | Price £210 / €230

Equipped with physical Call and End keys to assist older users who have difficulty swiping the touchscreen, this 5-inch 4G handset is easy to hold, hearing aid compatible, and relatively sturdy. Rugged with IP54 dust/water resistance. The battery is removable, offers just over 9 hours of talk time, and has an optional battery cover with an emergency call button. The latter calls up to five predefined contacts, automatically switches to speakerphone mode, sends a prepared SMS to an emergency number, provides GPS coordinates, and triggers a loud alarm.

operating system Android 10 | Screen 5.5 inches, 720 x 1440 | microprocessor Mediatek MTK6762 | smack 3GB | Warehouse 32GB | Network 2G/3G/4G LTE | Wireless Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), NFC, GPS | Connections & ports USB-C, 3.5mm audio out, MicroSD card slot | camera 8MP (front), 13MP, 2MP, 2MP (rear) | Battery capacity 3550mAh (removable) | Battery life 250 hours of standby time, 700 minutes of talk time | Accessory charging base, battery cover (with/without emergency button) | Dust/water resistant 1P54 | size 72mm x 150mm x 10mm | Weight 179g | Price £250 / €250

Emporia’s Smart 5 is a step up from the Super Easy model, with a slightly larger, higher resolution display, faster processor, more feature-packed camera, and Smartcover that gives access to already established functions. options such as call handling, favorite contacts, camera and flashlight when the lid is closed. As with the Super Easy, there is an optional version of the battery cover with an emergency button.

operating system Android 11 | Screen 10.1 inches, 1200 x 1920 | microprocessor Mediatek MT8768 | smack 4GB | Warehouse 32GB | WOMENconstruction 2G/3G/4G LTE | Wireless Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), GPS | Connections & ports USB-C, 3.5mm audio out, MicroSD card slot | camera 5MP (front), 13MP (rear) | Battery capacity 5000mAh | Accessory wall charger, optional keyboard case | size 243.7mm x 160mm x 8.5mm | Weight 560g | Price £330 / €300

This 4G LTE connected tablet allows premium users to get online without the hassle of setting up fixed broadband and Wi-Fi at home, or signing in to a Wi-Fi network when they’re out and about. (Wi-Fi is also supported of course). It comes with a wall-mountable charging dock, so if you remember to replace it, you’ll always know where the device is. The stand also enhances the tablet’s speaker output when the device is docked. A keyboard case with a built-in kickstand is available as an optional extra (£100 if purchased separately or £50 if purchased with the tablet).

Screen 1.1 inches, 240 x 240 | microprocessor Unisoc UWS6130E(W307) | smack 1GB | Warehouse 1GB | Network 2G/3G/4G LTE | Wireless Wi-Fi, GPS | Sensor 3-axis accelerometer, 6-axis gyroscope, heart rate & SpO2, body temperature | sound speaker, mic | Battery capacity 600mAh | Dust/water resistant IP67 | Strap black silicone, leather (optional) | size 43.9mm x 14.8mm | Weight 51g | Price £250 / €250

The first smartwatch designed specifically for older users, Emporia Watch joint venture with the German manufacturer anio, which manufactures wearables for both children and seniors. Due to launch in early 2023, Emporia Watch is a 4G/VoLTE device, making it a standalone device that doesn’t rely on Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone. Functions include heart rate, blood oxygen and temperature monitoring, step counting, and GPS tracking. A smartphone management app is available to adjust settings, and when allowed, the watch can be configured to alert friends and family in the event of unusual activity. The watch also features emergency dialing and an SOS button that calls up to three designated contacts.

alternative choice

Apple’s cheapest new smartphone is iPhone SE 4.7 inch, which starts at £449 in the UK — just over double the price of the 5-inch Emporia Super Easy. However, used iPhone SEs can cost between £150 and £250 with 64GB of storage and are a major competitor to Emporia, Millington said.

Another European company specializing in technology for the elderly based in Sweden doro, which also manufactures smartphones, feature phones, landlines, tablets, and smart watches. If you are looking for phones from major phone manufacturers for your elderly family or friends, you will need to consider factors such as price, device size, weight and ergonomics, touchscreen responsiveness, sound quality, IP rating, GPS support and more.

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