All that Apple Excitement—What does it mean for Seniors?

We assume that today our readers fall into three groups: Those who’ve already gorged themselves on the news of Apple’s latest iPhone; those who are wondering whether there’s anything in all the hype they should care about, and those who long for a simple phone that just makes calls.

As for what you should care about, the big story is that now you can finally buy an iPhone with a larger screen, either 4.7 inches or 5.5 inches. There’s no question this is a benefit to aging eyes as well as aging hands, since it means the letters on virtual keyboards should be bigger.

Still, we must urge that if you have vision or finger flexibility concerns, you should try out any phone you plan to buy or lease in person. A reviewer’s “lightweight and elegant” may be your version of “heavy and clunky.”

The hardware should determine your choice, because unless you’re a power user, the operating system (OS) that runs your phone is likely to be fairly irrelevant to you. However, if you want to exchange data among multiple devices, such as your phone and your tablet, it will make your life easier to stick to one operating system.

That said, as more and more mobile health applications come online, which OS your phone runs may become increasingly important. Just like with software programs on desktop computers, not all apps are available or can run on all phones, so if you’re devoted to specific apps, you need to pay attention to which phone OS you choose.  For example, Apple’s new iOS8, available on its newly announced phones and downloadable on some of its older models, has a health app that will work in partnership with the Mayo Clinic.Continue Reading

Disposing–and possibly profiting from–Old Technology

While new technology can make the lives of seniors easier, old technology is just another piece of clutter. Unless it’s an Apple I, even the early birds at the garage sale won’t want it.

What can you do with it? has a smart article with some useful ideas for handling the problem, from re-selling to recycling. They also have some important cautions:

  • Like disposing old motor oil, be aware of local environmental laws regulating what must be done with old electronics.
  • Like destroying old credit cards, be certain no one can reconstruct what was on your device. You may need to hire a professional to help you with this.
Ya never know...

Ya never know…

One caution we’d like to add to their list, after the traumatic experiences of friends who lost their comic book collections to overly zealous parental purging. Sure, there’s always going to be somebody who’ll offer ten bucks to take that old junk off your hands, but never toss anything without first checking its value as a collectible. That Apple I we mentioned? It sold at auction for $671,000.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a story today about re-selling iPhones. If the original price of your phone was discounted due to a two-year contract, it may actually be possible to realize a profit over what you paid. If you buy a phone knowing that you’re eventually going to re-sell it, make sure you keep everything that came with the original packaging and don’t get the phone engraved.

Several commentators on the Times story suggested that a good cost-saving strategy is to buy  your phone at a discount on a two-year contract, then keep the phone when the contract is up and switch to a lower cost or pay-as-you-go carrier.

Important note: If you plan to sell or trade-in your phone, check current reviews of whatever sites you’re seriously considering. The Times list cashforiphones among its suggestions, but CNet has a lengthy article warning against them, with excellent advice on what questions to ask about trade-ins. Consumer Reports has a list of trust-worthy stores and sites. In addition, you might want to consider eBay and Apple itself, which will send you a gift card.