Android guide for senior people
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A Quick & Easy-To-Understand Android Guide For Seniors

Seniors aren’t usually the first ones to adjust when new technology rolls out. Yet, they too must change with the times. Whether you only use it to get in touch with friends and family, or for more adventurous purposes, there is no doubt that getting the hang of smartphones will be necessary. Still, it’s not easy to learn how to operate this technology as a beginner. This is why I’ve prepared this Android guide specifically curated to make things easier for seniors.  

What is an Android Phone?

An Android phone is a high-tech, powerful smartphone that, as its name suggests, runs on the Android operating system. 

It’s one of the technologies that is most indicative of how far I’ve come in terms of communication. 

When the first cell phone came out, it served one distinct purpose: to allow communication between two parties located in different destinations. 

As the cell phone evolved, it became more mobile. People could take it with them in their pockets. And since the usability and features of cell phones (now called smartphones or Android phones) expanded, it became similar to a mini-computer that you could take with you at all times. 

How Will Seniors Benefit From Using Android Phones?

What used to be a luxury has now become a necessity. People do not leave their homes without their Android phones. 

In our generation, almost everything has become automatic thanks to Android phones. For instance, people can order food through their phone instead of going to a drive-thru. They can consult their navigation app whenever they’re lost on the road. When people don’t understand something, they don’t have to rummage around in books anymore. Instead, they can simply find the answer with one click.

Still, the transition from older phone models to Android phones isn’t easy for seniors. But, despite this hesitancy, here are five reasons I think it’s a good idea for seniors to use an Android phone:

1. Preserve Memories

Android phones are equipped with cameras that are almost as good as high-spec professional cameras. You’ll be able to take as many memories as you want whether it be your 60th birthday, your daughter’s wedding, the birth of your first grandson, you name it. 

And since Android phones are so flexible, you can upgrade your phone memory as many times as you want. Think about all the family and vacation photos you can store on just a tiny Android phone. 

2. Read Anywhere

Seniors do love their morning news. There’s nothing better than drinking your cup of coffee and reading the news first thing in the morning. 

With your Android phone, not only can you read the news but you can also digest your favorite books. There are plenty of e-book readers that you can install so that you can have access to your entire library whether you’re going to the coffee house, to the grocery store, or to the beach.

3. Promotes Cognitive Acuity

Seniors might not be crazy about mobile games like Mobile Legends, Call of Duty, or League of Legends. 

But I know that you might like games such as Tetris, Candy Crush Saga, Dots, Card Shake Solitaire, and many more. The concept of these games is similar to normal activities that you love to do such as crossword puzzles and Scrabble. 

4. Always Feel At Home

If you have a son, daughter, sibling, or even friends whom you don’t get to see often, you can easily keep in touch with each other through Facebook, Skype, Zoom, the list goes on. 

Maybe you have family working overseas. It can get lonely when you’re out of touch with the people you love. While you can easily call them through your regular phone, this is usually a lot more expensive since you have to purchase credits each time. In contrast, when you use your Android phone, you will be able to talk at will with your family and friends.

With Android phones, there is also the added benefit of being able to virtually meet up with friends and family through video call, a feature that is absent in regular cell phones. 

5. Safety & Security

With Android phones, you’ll always be able to stay in touch not just with people you know but the community as a whole. 

Having an Android phone in hand and knowing how to use it makes it easier for your relatives to know if you need someone to drop by and leave your medicines/groceries. 

Maybe you’re not feeling so good and you need your son to pick you up and drive you to the nearest clinic or hospital. You can easily message or call your son on Messenger to inform him. While you can do the same using a regular phone, it won’t always work since signals can vary from place to place. 

What if you need something and your son isn’t available to come to your assistance? With an Android phone, you’ll have access to everyone you know near the city. You will have more people to reach out to than if you were only to rely on the call and message features of your old phone. 

Android Challenges For Seniors

This Android guide for seniors is intended to help people like you navigate your Android phone with ease. But before we can dig deeper into the matter, it’s important to identify what challenges and troubles you typically face with regards to using an Android phone. Android challenges often include:

  • Bright light

Sometimes, it’s just not comfortable to use your Android phone for long periods of time due to eye-straining light brightness. 

  • Text is too small

Android phones, if left to their own devices, have small text, making it hard for some people to quickly read the message text.

  • It’s hard to open

Having been familiar with phones with keypads, trying to figure out how to open a phone that’s fully reliant on a touch screen mechanism can be a struggle. 

  • Not knowing where to put your fingers

It’s the same thing with the previous item. You’re just so used to keypads that you don’t know how to open the FoodPanda app even when the icon is already in front of you. 

  • Lack of Soft Touch functionalities

Some Android phones don’t have soft-touch functionalities by default. You have to customize its touch screen sensitivity from the settings. Soft-touch means, you don’t have to tap so hard on the screen to operate your Android phone. 

7 things to do to make Android phones senior-friendly

You can’t change how Android phones have been designed but there’s a way to go around it. Below is a beginner checklist on how to make your Android phone more senior-friendly. Take note that in this Android guide, I’ll be using Xiaomi Redmi 9 for the demo images. There will also be alternate instructions for regular Android users. 

1. Enable Lite Mode

One of the best things about Android phones is their flexibility. You can literally fill in all the apps and widgets you need on a single home screen. Unfortunately, for less-experienced users, this only makes the UI more complex. 

That’s where Lite Mode comes in handy. It lives up to its name. It basically gives your UI a more easy-to-understand appearance. It’s the perfect customization for seniors. 

Here is how you can enable Lite Mode:

  • Go to settings
  • Select Special Features 
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  • Tap on Lite Mode
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  • Click Turn On Lite Mode
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It’s not the same for every device. Sometimes, it’s called Easy Mode. If you can’t find Lite Mode in your device, you can try this process to enable Easy Mode:

  1. Go to settings
  2. Tap Display
  3. Click Easy Mode
  4. Toggle

2. Use Bigger Fonts

Customizing the settings to give you a bigger text size solves an important issue, not just among senior citizens, but all users with weak eyesight. 

Changing text size is easy. 

  • Go to settings
  • Tap Display
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  • Select Text Size
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  • Drag the slider from left to right to adjust the font size
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3. Choose The Right Keyboard

You’ll have a default virtual keyboard in your Android phone but if it doesn’t suit you, there’s an option to download other sets of virtual keyboards from the Google Play Store. 

Here are our most recommended Android keyboards for senior citizens:

SwiftKey Keyboard

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1C Big Keyboard

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MessageEase Keyboard

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All of the above keyboard recommendations are free to use, although some of them come with in-app purchases.

To download your new keyboard:

  • Go to Google Play Store
  • Search for keyboards
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  • Tap on a keyboard that you like
  • Click Install and wait for it to be fully downloaded into your device
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Now, once you have your keyboard, here’s how you can start using it on your device:

  • Go to settings
  • Click Additional Settings
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  • Tap Languages & Input
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  • Tap Manage Keyboards
  • Toggle your downloaded keyboard
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  • Go back 
  • Click Current Keyboard
  • Select your new keyboard
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If you’re using an alternative Android phone, you can refer to the following for instructions:

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap System
  • Select Languages & Input
  • Click Virtual Keyboard
  • Tap Manage keyboards
  • Toggle the keyboard that you downloaded
  • Tap Ok

4. Get Rid of Gesture Navigation

You can think of gesture navigation as a kind of shortcut. Let’s say that you want to turn on your phone camera without having to go to the menu. You can simply customize your settings in a way that when you swipe up, your camera will turn on. 

In some cases, gesture navigation can truly be helpful but that’s not always the case. For seniors and less-experienced users, gesture navigation can only make your Android phone more complex to use. 

Your Android phone may or may not have gesture navigation, depending on your phone’s model and unit. But here’s a quick guide on how to disable it:

  • Go to settings
  • Tap Additional Settings 
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  • Click Full Screen Display
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  • Enable your preferred system navigation
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If the above procedures don’t apply, you can refer to the instructions below:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap System
  3. Select Gestures
  4. Click System Navigation
  5. Enable the system navigation that you want on

5. Biometrics

One of the issues senior citizens typically have with regards to using Android phones is remembering their PIN codes. Fortunately, you can just register your fingerprint on your phone. So, whenever you need to use your phone, just touch the finger sensor to open your phone. Of course, you need to remember to use the finger that you used for the biometrics registration!

This feature is excellent for protection and security. We often enter a lot of sensitive information on our phones. Using biometrics gives you the assurance that you are the only one who can unlock your device. 

If you want to enable your phone’s biometrics function, here is what you need to do:

  • Go to settings
  • Tap Passwords & Security
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  • Click Fingerprint Unlock
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  • Draw your pattern if you have one
  • Select Add a Fingerprint
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  • Draw your pattern if applicable
  • Tap finger into sensor
  • Keep on doing it until the fingerprint icon on the monitor is completely blue
  • Set a name for the fingerprint and tap done
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You can also use the following instructions if you have a different device:

  1. Open your phone settings
  2. Go to Security
  3. Tap Lock Screen
  4. Click Fingerprint
  5. Follow the process

6. Make Apps Easier to Find

Facebook, Messenger, Google, YouTube, and Caller are examples of apps that you might use every day. I recommend that you identify the apps that you commonly use and then make them more accessible by placing them in the home screen. 

First, delete all the apps and widgets that are there and then add your favorite apps and widgets one by one. This way, your home screen becomes more comprehensive and customized for your needs.  

7. Enable Voice Access

Tapping away can get tougher as we age even with over-sized buttons and text. This is why most Android phones on the market have voice-search capabilities. You simply say out loud the term that you want to be searched, as the command for the phone to act upon, and then the system will oblige. 

You can enable voice command in your Android phone by doing the following:

  • Get Voice Access from PlayStore
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  • Go to settings
  • Tap Additional Settings
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  • Select Accessibility
  • Under General, click Downloaded Services
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  • Tap Voice Access
  • Toggle on Accessibility 

In some cases, the above instructions won’t be applicable. If N/A, you can refer to the alternative instructions below:

  • Download and install Voice Access from PlayStore
  • Go to Settings
  • Tap Accessibility
  • Select Voice Access
  • Click Use Voice Access
  • Go back to your home screen
  • Tap Voice Access App
  • Say a command like “open Gmail”

I’m excited for you to start enjoying your Android phone’s functionality and great features. Let us know in the comments section below of any improvement in your experience with Android phones.

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