Touchscreen technology devices

There are many portable devices, tablets and phones that make it easier for people to get on-line ... and to want to stay on-line.

(Photo: VAO)

Smartphones, computers and touchscreen tablets can sometimes be confusing and have unnecessary buttons or links and icons that get in the way of simple operation of the device. i'm sure we all find this to be the case whatever age we are! Remembering the action tapping an icon initiates is harder for some people than others and sometimes it's even not clear from the icon what tapping the icon will do.

Fortunately there are a number of portable touchscreen devices, software based app innovations and products that help make the journey of getting on-line easier ... and don't make it frustrating to keep returning to continue the on-line experience. 

Some examples we've seen and tried out are :

  • Laptop or Desktop PC
    • Buttons runs inside your browser and creates simple bookmarked 'buttons' to your favorite websites and links on the internet.
    • Eldy is a program that runs when the computer (or tablet) starts up and becomes a layer on top of the operating system showing just the key parts needed for ease of use by an older person. Eldy is available for both PC (Windows, Linux and Mac), Tablet and Television. Eldy provides e-mail account, a web browser, a chat service, a text editor, pictures management, weather forecast and videoconference. It is simple and clear with big buttons Download all versions from here.
    • Simplicity Computers have created 'The Envelope' which is similar to Eldy as it transforms the desktop of a computer or tablet launcher by replacing this with simple buttons that link directly to the users Documents/Photos, The Web, E-mail and to Tutorials. There's no clutter on any of the screens ... no drop down menus, fiddly icons and confusing toolbars - just simple big triangle buttons.
    • Alex is another system which replaces the traditional Windows interface of the computer with a straightforward dashboard. The suppliers of Alex are also offering COAST a secure Ubuntu based open source computer on a stick. All the user's files and information are stored on the USB Stick which means they can take the stick and plug it into any computer to access their documents.

  • Standard Tablet PC or Smartphone

On Android devices it is possible to replace the standard launcher with one that shows just has the important buttons as large links to tap on. We like Big Launcher which has both a limited free version and a more extensive version for $10) or you could try the similar Large Launcher which is free. Other products on our devices we've tried that work well are Big Buttons (lots of customisation) and Simple Senior Phone which has a useful 'Locate' button feature. 


  • Tablet PC with built-in Apps

Age UK have developed their own easy to use tablet PC. The Breezie is based on a Samsung Galaxy tablet with an easy to navigate interface and subscription to services providing unlimited support and telephone tutorial advice on getting the most from it. Breezie prices start from £239 with Tablet included or from £75 to install on your own device.

Another provider of devices with a more straightforward interface is Synapptic who have a range of Tablet PCs starting from £340. They are ideal for low vision users who rely heavily on screen magnification features. (NOTE - Both the Breezie and Synapptic software can be purchased independently to run on your own tablet).


  • Smartphone with add-on apps

Similar to Big Launcher (above), the GeorgiePhone app for smartphones replaces the Android interface with a clear set of large buttons that can be used for making and receiving calls by touch or by voice operation.The setting of the phone such as volume and contrast can also be controlled from within the app Georgie costs £9.99 from the Play Store.

  • Smartphone with built in apps

Amplicomms produce a range of mobile phones suitable for older people and the hard of hearing. Their first Smartphone - the PowerTel M9000 is now available. This Android Smartphone costs around £140, but is a fully featured Android Smartphone with a simplified interface, an amplified speaker and an emergency SOS button that can be programmed to call a designated contact in an emergency.

Synapptic produce a phone version of their software optimised for low vision users.

Another provider of both Smartphones and Easyphone are Doro who have a range of handsets aimed at users who just want a simple phone interface. Doro phones come with a separate app that trusted friends and family can access to provide remote assistance.

  •  Simple to use basic phone

OwnFone produce a mobile phone that can be customised and personalised to suit it's user. Their simple web interface allows you to design the phone with pre-programmed numbers, pictures and even the colour and style of the phone. The phone can then either be used on a pre-pay or monthly contract basis at very reasonable rates.

Anything missing? Tell us in the comments if you've seen or used a resource we should include here.

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