‘There’s an App for that.’

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There’s one question that I get asked every week without fail:

How do you know how to go about this? How do you make it look so easy?

I only answer that it’s the same as someone knows how to kick a ball, or how one knows how to play a piano, you just know.

There’s been times in the past where I’ve played football, either on a field or on an Xbox, and it’s never been a great sight to behold,  I always felt uncomfortable along with knowing that this isn’t who I am and what I’d be good at.

Sometimes I wonder what I’d have done a century ago, or even twenty years ago. I’d probably have taken a degree in writing or journalism, but not being able to use an iPhone or give an opinion on an industry I enjoy would be surreal. Perhaps food.

So when I was at AgeUK this past week, the above kept being reinforced each day.

There had been arrangements to have five days at their place in Lincoln, where me and a colleague would set up a room, and would help people who were near-illiterate in using a smart device. Whether that would be a phone, a tablet, or a laptop. I’d create a quiz sheet each day that would feature questions from technology, but also totally unrelated ones which even I wasn’t aware of the answer to.


Some would be terrified. I’d see hands shaking as to which button to tap, or panic when a menu would appear when it shouldn’t have.

Eventually they would come back day after day, clearly looking more confident and suddenly they are even giving suggestions.

One example which caught me off-guard; iMessage.

You recieve an iMessage and it’s in blue. A regular text received is in green.

Surely to know the difference, what if it was the other way round, so an iMessage is in green, to represent Apple, as an Apple is predominantly green.

A simple but great idea to someone who wants to understand why a message sent is sometimes blue and not green.

There’s an argument that it could confuse long-standing users of iOS, but Apple have introduced much bigger changes, and the customers have accepted them with no issue, so its certainly possible.

It’s moments like this that you think there’s potential for great ideas to occur on something like this which is so clearly obvious.

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The people we were helping had gone through their lives managing without the devices we hold every single day. In 2015, it’s unimaginable not being able to use a phone each hour to contact someone quickly, so you could understand why they didn’t feel it was necessary to own one. Some react so passionately about their device that you think they had just had their house repossessed.

They ask; they’ve managed fine in 60 years, why not 40 more?

In the end, the answer is simply; family and friends.

Imagine during World War II, you’d say goodbye to a family member to be sent away to help their country, and all you’d be hoping for is the next letter to just set your mind at peace that they’re still safe.

Suddenly, possibilities arise with today’s technology:

  • If  Skype or FaceTime was available after the Normandy Invasion.
  • Viewing a friend’s Snapchat in London after the first Blitz strikes to see if they’re safe.
  • Can a reminder be set to collect ration stamps?
  • Using the Periscope app to stream the severity of bomb damage in London.
  • Finding the best app to store ration stamps.

You then start to think, how today’s technology can benefit everyone completely, just that some need that extra push to show them that there’s a better way for many situations.


Which is why the past week clearly showed, that there’s potential to help a lot more people out there. Some who feel lonely and isolated, and are unaware of reaching their friends and family in ways that would have been impossible 70 years ago.

Some just need to be shown that a few options are right there, ready to be used.

Soon, a trust in Nokia being the ‘safe’ option just because they have actual buttons will be non-existant in 18 months time. Now is a perfect moment in showing a family member the best way of communicating with one another, by way of tablet or smart phone.

Across the week, it was inspiring to have people who were able to enjoy the devices they’ve kept wrapped in a shopping bag for so long, and reinforced the fact that it’s never too late to learn something new. There’s always time.

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