Today, a surprising number of seniors have embraced the technological advances of the past decade, with 69.8% of seniors surveyed by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency saying “life is better now the Internet is around”.1 And this includes the incredible benefits offered by mobile applications.

If you are just getting started with using apps, here is a list of 22 great apps to try. The customer ratings listed for all apps below were correct as at 12/07/16.

Magnifying Glass with Light by Falcon in Motion LLC

2 examples of Magnifying Glass app at different zoom level.(1.00x and 2.06x)

Readers who sometimes struggle with reading menus in dark restaurants or fine print will love the Magnifying Glass with Light App. This easy-to-use app makes writing bigger and brighter, so you don’t have to strain your eyes. There’s a zoom option, zoom with capture (so you can save pictures for later), crystal clear mode, and option to adjust brightness.

This quick video tutorial will show you how to use it.

This app is available on Google Play and iTunes.

BIG Launcher

Selection of 3 different text size(default, bigger and biggest) in BIG Launcher.

If you’re straining to see the homepage icons on your smartphone or tablet, BIG Launcher is for you. Designed for people with special vision needs, this app changes the standard home screen icons by replacing them with large icons that are easy to see.

You can still use all the standard functions – from call history and SMS editor to other apps – but the larger text and colour coded icons helps you find everything quickly. BIG Launcher is available for free in demo version or as a paid full version, and it’s compatible with any phone or tablet with Android 2.1 or higher.

Watch this video to find out more.

Currently the app is not available for iTunes but is available on Android through the Google Playstore.

Google Now

Search result of Virgin Australia flight in Google Now.

Google Now is a great app for seniors who love having useful information at their fingertips while on the go. This app lets you search through the world’s most popular search engine with a tap of your fingers. You can also use voice activated Google search through the app, by saying ‘Okay Google’ to search with your voice.

Along with a quick access to Search from every Home screen, this app comes with voice activation tool that lets you start text messages, get directions, play songs, and more. With a little tweaking, the app can be used as a personal assistant much like Siri for iPhones. For example, if you set up your home and work locations, you can quickly find out your commute time by asking Google Now a voice question, such as ‘how long will it take me to get to work?’

The app can answer other simple questions such the number of days to a specific date, maths calculations, local times, and historical or trivia facts.

The app is available from both Google Play and iTunes.

Bluelight Filter

Settings of Bluelight filter(50%, night mode ticked).

We’re all well aware that using our smartphones and tablets before bedtime can impact how long it takes to settle down and fall asleep. Luckily, the Bluelight Filter app supports better sleep quality by allowing you to adjust your screen colour, reduce the blue light, and minimise eye strain. The filter’s colour is natural, so you can still access your favourite websites and view content clearly, and you can adjust the filter and filter colour to your liking. The filter is battery efficient, so it won’t act as an energy drain on your device.

The video review shows you why you need to download this app to assist you with better sleep.

You can download the app from Google Play; currently the app is not available for download in iTunes

Dragon Dictation

2 screens from Dragon Dictation, Tap to dictate on left and How it gets recorded on right.

This completely free app eliminates the need to type more than you have to, by letting you dictate text and email messages. You can also use it to input text for other apps, including Facebook (for status updates, for example), note-taking apps, Twitter, and other apps. It comes with an editing feature with suggestions for alternatives, and you can make corrections with voice commands as well.

This video tutorial teaches you how to use Dragon Dictation.

Dragon Dictation is available for iPhone only, and is not available via Google Play.

TrackMySPEND

For seniors who are looking for an uncomplicated app to track their spending, the TrackMySPEND app from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) offers an easy, free way to monitor and record your spending habits. You can set up a budget for your household, plan for special costs such as holidays and celebrations, calculate and log your travel expenses, and stay on top of cash expenses.

The app also lets you set spending limits, categorise needs versus wants, create favourites for frequent expenses, and view your expense history. Additionally, you can set expense reminders that will be sent to your phone as an SMS.

The app is free to download from Google Play and iTunes.

Kindle

There are many reasons to use the Kindle app:

  • You don’t need to have a Kindle device
  • Access Amazon’s millions of ebooks with a tap
  • Read your ebooks, magazines, and newspapers on any device, whether it’s a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Kindle app is available for download through the Kindlewebsite, on Google Play, and through iTunes.  There are thousands of free out-of-copyright books to be accessed, and Kindle app features include syncing across devices (for bookmarks, notes and highlights) and reading customisation, as well as the in-built dictionary, Wikipedia, and Google for quick referencing.2

The Kindle app is available for download from Google Play and iTunes.

Lumosity

Lost in Migration game in Lumosity.

A popular mind training app, Lumosity is used by 70 million people worldwide. This app has been developed by neuroscience researchers, and it comes with more than 50 cognitive games that address the five key areas of the brain: memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving.3 It’s delivered as a daily training program to keep your brain active, and the program learns as you play by adapting to your unique learning needs.

This video shows you how to use this great app.

Lumosity is available on both Google Play and iTunes.

iHeart Radio

List of radio stations that are available in iheart Radio

The iHeart Radio is the app for you if you enjoy listening to music on the go or on your tablet. Available on Google Play and iTunes, you can use the app to listen to your favourite radio stations, news, podcasts, sport shows, and other streamed content.  You can also find new radio stations and create custom, one-of-a-kind stations to enjoy your favourite genres.

The iHeart Radio is available for download from iTunes and Google Play.

Netflix

List of video contents in Netflix.

Watch movies on your phone or tablet with the Netflix app. Available on Google Play and iTunes, you can watch TV episodes and movies as long as you’ve already signed up for a Netflix subscription, which lets you watch an unlimited numbers of movies and TV shows for a flat monthly fee. Some of the best features include resume across devices, so you can switch between tablet and phone without hassle.

Netflix is available to download from Google Play and iTunes.

Relax Melodies

Selection of music in Relax Melodies.

Relax Melodies is a popular sleep-supporting app that helps you achieve better sleep through relaxing music. Simple yet fully featured, this app comes with 52 ambient sounds and music options that you can play while falling asleep, napping, meditating, or doing something relaxing.

You can create your own sleep mix or choose from the eight ready-made favourites to start off. The app lets you name, save, and replay your mixes, and you can set a timer to start playing. Other features include an alarm clock and an easy-to-use interface.

Watch this video to learn more about downloading and using Relax Melodies.

Relax Melodies is available on Google Play and iTunes.

Voice Dream Reader

List of books available in Voice Dream Reader

Give your eyes a break and start reading with your ears instead. The Voice Dream Reader is a paid app that gives you access to 186 different voices and 30 languages. You can read ebooks, websites, and files on your device. Extra features include pausing, rewinding, speed adjustment, and highlighting text. You can also use the app to enhance your visual reading experience, with tools such as text-only view, synchronised highlighting, font size adjustment, and colour themes.

This video shows you how to use Voice Dream Reader.

Download Voice Dream Reader on Google Play or from the iTunes store.

Words with Friends

Options to chooose language in start menu.

Words with Friends is a popular mobile word game that you can play with your Facebook friends, or with new friends you’ve matched with through the Smart Match or Community Match feature. There is a solo play mode, an in-game chat function, and performance tracking features.

With this app, you can stay entertained and keep your mind busy whether you’re on the train, waiting for an appointment, or just relaxing at home.

This video breaks down how Words with Friends works.

Words with Friends is available through Google Play and iTunes.

MyLively

Available on Google Play andiTunes, MyLively Home is a free app that’s linked the MyLively home sensor system and the medical alert watch, making it a great app for seniors who are monitoring their health and need to access a range of medical features.

There are medication reminders, wellness updates, step tracking, safety watch, emergency response, and others. Your family members can get alerts when you might need their assistance.

To find out more about how Lively works, check out this video tutorial.

MyLively is available for download via the iTunes store and Google Play.

MyFitnessPal

Diary of calorie intake within MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is one of the world’s most popular health and fitness apps.4 For health conscious seniors, this app offers a wide range of features and tools to check nutritional details of food items, help you lose weight, track exercise, and monitor food items. It can be synced with more than 50 different fitness devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Garmin, MapMyFitness, Runkeeper, Strava, Runtastic, Misfit, Withings, and Healthkit.

To set up, you answer a few questions and the app will provide you with a personalised diet and exercise program that’s suitable for you. You can use it to connect with friends and people in the MyFitnessPal community.

MyFitnessPal is easy to use and suitable for seniors looking to better manage their fitness and health.

You can check out a video tutorial here.

Available for download on Google Play and iTunes.

Emergency Plus

The app has buttons to call emergency, SES, the police and has your location to tell the operator.

The Australian government’s Triple Zero Awareness Working Group has a smartphone app that provides callers with the right emergency number to call depending on the context. For example, there are numbers for the State Emergency Service, the Police Assistance Line, Crime Stoppers, Health Direct Australia, and more.

Other emergency-friendly features include displaying the GPS coordinates of the caller so the information can be told to the emergency operator.

This video shows how various government divisions are connected to this app to provide you their services when you require it the most.

You can download this app from Google Play and iTunes.

Healthdirect

Screenshot of Healthdirect app with options to search for health information, check your symptoms, find a health service and in an emergency.

Healthdirect is an app that lets you access the National Health Services Directory through the Healthdirect app and find GPs, pharmacies, emergency departments, hospital services, and other health services in your local area. Additionally, you can use the app to check your symptoms and source trusted health information.

The app is downloadable through Google Play and iTunes.

Skype

Available for desktop, tablets, and Android and iTunes devices, Skype is one of the most popular voice and video communication apps in the world. You can make voice calls (up to 25 people), message friends, and share photos for free. Voice calls to mobiles and landlines around the world are available at competitive prices,5 and you can prepay for calls with credits or make calls with monthly, quarterly, or yearly contracts.

Skype is available for download via iTunes and Google Play.

Facebook

Profile of a woman in a Facebook app.

The Facebook app offers an easy way to keep in touch with friends and loved ones through the world’s most widely used social media platform. You can share content, use Facebook Messenger, view your friends’ profiles, and access other features of the Facebook platform.

The app is available on both Google Play and iTunes.

Uber

Set pickup location page in Uber app.

If you are looking for a ride, Uber6 and UberASSIST are options to consider if they are legal in your state or territory. The app’s benefits include convenience – you can request a driver on demand without having to reserve ahead of time or wait in a taxi rank – easy cash or cashless payments, watch your driver’s approach on a map on your smartphone, and pre-ride fare estimates. In addition, the app provides a driver reputation ranking system, for extra peace of mind.

For seniors who need assistance, UberASSIST might be available depending on your location.7 If you have special accessibility needs such as folding wheelchairs, walkers, and collapsible scooters that need to be taken with you, you might be able to request a special driver through the service (though vehicles don’t have ramps or lifts). Note that Uber fares can vary depending on whether you’re using it during surge and non-surge periods and the vehicle option you’ve chosen.

To learn the Uber basics, check out this video tutorial.

Uber is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Smartraveller

Access the latest Australian government travel advice for more than 170 places with the Smartraveller app. You can find out about possible travel risks, get up-to-date information on locations, and find information about Australian embassies, high commissions, and consulates.

You can also use the Smartraveller app to register your travel details so you can be easily contacted in case of emergency, and to obtain general information on travel insurance and other travel tips.

The Smartraveller app is downloadable through the Google Play store or through iTunes.

TripGo

Options in smartraveller app.

TripGo is the must-have app for any senior who uses public transport. This city transit planner app can be used for any major Australian city. Useful features include option to combine any public transport with taxis, own rides or car trips, car share, or other transport modes.

You can use the app to personalise trips, pick route preferences, and check fares and times. Live service alerts, timetables, and predicted departure and arrival times can be accessed with a click, for accurate, timely trip planning.

This video explains how TripGo works.

TripGo can be downloaded from Google Play and from the iTunes store.

Australia Seniors Insurance Agency Pty Ltd (Seniors) is not affiliated with the applications or websites mentioned in this article. Their use in this article does not imply endorsement by Seniors.

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