With smartphones being omnipresent in today’s world, it’s easy to take them for granted. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who find modern smartphones either too confusing or too difficult to use. Elderly people are prone to being left behind as they find it hard to adapt to rapidly changing technology. Similarly, visually-impaired folks may have difficulty operating a device that relies on hand-eye coordination.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat these problems.
Some may find that specially-designed smartphones are the way to go. Alternatively, if you already have a phone, you can tweak the appearance of your Android phone with apps called launchers. Launchers can change the entire look and feel of your Android device, making them easier to use. The following Android launchers are designed with seniors and the visually-impaired in mind.
1. Grand Launcher
Living up to its name, the Grand Launcher does away with flashy UI elements and snazzy designs in favor of a big, bold interface that prioritizes the important stuff for older users – phone, SMS, photos and (of course) flashlight.
It’s filled with neat touches, like a red notification icon that pops out against the blue background to tell you when you have a missed call or new message as well as a virtual keyboard that displays letters in alphabetical order. Depending on the user’s comfort with tech, the QWERTY keyboard may be more familiar; however, so you can always change it to that if you like.
It costs a few dollars, but it’s great value, as after several years of development, it continues to be updated and improved.
2. Necta Launcher
The Necta Launcher (no longer available) is one that was designed specifically for seniors. It modifies the Android user interface by replacing everything with large, easy-to-see icons. All of the apps on the home screen are clearly labeled with large fonts. Necta also simplifies the Android system settings and enlarges the dialer.
Additionally, Necta features an “SOS” function that enables users to call an emergency contact with a single tap. Another noteworthy safety feature is the user’s ability to send their location to designated contacts through the GPS app.
While Necta has its share of positives, there is one glaring downside. Necta is limited to four “themes” which really only changes the color of the UI. People who are visually impaired may find it hard to differentiate apps due to the single uniform color. That being said, some may find the uniformity more appealing, as a single color scheme eliminates distractions.
3. Big Launcher
Do you have people in your life complaining about how they wish their phone was just a phone? If so, Big Launcher (no longer available) might be exactly what they’re looking for. Big Launcher wasn’t exclusively developed for seniors. Instead, it was designed for people who wanted to dumb down their overly complicated smartphone. Big Launcher rejigs Android into a simplified user interface that “just works.” Additionally, as the name implies, everything on screen is “bigified.” This makes icons clear and easy to differentiate, something visually-impaired persons can appreciate.
As with the other launchers mentioned, Big Launcher brings essential apps and contacts to the home screen. The UI revamps everything from application icons to text messages, making them larger and easy to read. It even makes notifications full screen, ensuring missed calls or texts don’t go unnoticed.
Be aware that Big Launcher has both free and premium versions. There are a number of limitations applied to the free version, including the number of messages that can be sent and the extent you can customize the UI. We suggest users install the free version to give it a test drive before committing to the purchase.
4. Wiser Simple Senior Launcher
Wiser (no longer available) is a launcher suitable for seniors and the visually-impaired as well as children. Like other launchers on this list, Wiser completely changes the layout of the Android interface, making it much simpler and easier to navigate. Wiser achieves this by breaking the Android environment down into four sections: Home Page, Notice Board, Favorite People and Applications.
Wiser’s Home screen features the six most commonly used apps: Contacts, Phone, Messages, Camera, Gallery and Applications. The apps are large and colourful, making them very easy to see. The UI is broken down further into three other pages.
Swiping to the right from the Home screen will bring you to the Favorite People screen. Here, users can add frequent or important contacts arranged as easy-to-see icons. Swiping right again will bring you to the Applications page. On this page users can pin their most-used applications for quick access. Finally, swiping left from the Home Page will bring users to the Notice Board. This page acts as a simplified way to quickly see unread messages, emails and everything else you would normally see as a notification. In addition, the dialer features larger buttons for ease of use.
Do you use a launcher application with your Android device? Did you install the launcher to make your Android more accessible? Do you know of a launcher geared specifically toward seniors or those who are visually impaired that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!