7 Secret Smartphone Superpowers for Senior Citizens

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Smartphones are all the rage right now. I gave one to my mother for Christmas, but since it is a new device for her she didn’t know how to utilize many of the cool new features. These 7 secret smartphones superpowers will have you up to speed with helpful and efficient new features helping to keep you safe and healthy in the New Year.



1. Give Hearing Aids a Boost

Apple has a new Live Listen feature that turns your iPhone into a microphone and links it to a many styles of compatible hearing aids. • On an iPhone: Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > MFi Hearing Devices and select your hearing aid model. • On an Android phone: Google is working with manufacturer GN Hearing to provide similar support in future versions of Android.


2. Alert Incoming Calls that you are Driving There is a feature on the new phones which will help prevent distracted driving. A text is sent to incoming calls which explains that you are not hands free right now and will call them back.

• On an iPhone: Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Do not disturb while driving > Activate. • On an Android phone: Go to Settings > Sound > Do Not Disturb > Turn on automatically > Add rule > Driving. If that doesn’t work, download Google’s free Android Auto app.


3. Your Phone Can Read to You Your phone can read the content on the screen out loud, whether its an email, text message, or written article.

• On an iPhone: Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Speak Screen. (Once enabled, you can click open any article, drag two fingers down from the top of the screen to get the reading started. There is also a control that adjusts the speed of the reading voice.) • On an Android phone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Select to Speak. (A small icon of a person appears on the screen; tap it and the phone begins reading.)


4. Magnify and Enlarge Small Type The small type on the prescription label is so difficult to read your phone’s camera can serve as a magnifying glass. • On an iPhone: Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier. (On older models, press the Home button three times to activate the feature inside the camera app. On new iPhones, use the Side button.) • On an Android phone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Magnification. (To activate, open the camera app and tap the screen three times.)


5. Make better use of your smartphone’s camera – it’s not just for selfies.

“It seems so simple, but getting more mileage out of your phone’s camera can truly make your life easier. Snap a picture of your fridge/pantry before you head to the grocery store so that you know exactly what to buy. Suffer from parked-car memory failure? Take a picture of the closest intersection to your car’s location. Use your smartphone camera to store highly useful information like your prescriptions (photos of your medicine bottles), your frequent flier number (photo of your frequent flier card), or your hotel’s address (photo/screen-grab of your travel itinerary) in case your lose service.” – Brenna Loury, 7 Easy Hacks That Turn Your Smartphone into the Ultimate Productivity Tool, Todoist; Twitter: @todoist


6. Identify just about anything.

“Forgot the name of that thingamajig? Put on your Google Goggles and let the world’s biggest search engine remember it for you.

“Here’s how it works. Take a photo of the unknown object with the camera in your smartphone then upload it to the web via Google Goggles. The photo is then matched against the search engine’s database to make a quick ID. You don’t even have to type anything. It’s especially useful for translating foreign text.” – Mark Stachiew, 10 Unbelievably Cool Ways to Use Your Smartphone, Reader’s Digest; Twitter: @ReadersDigestCA


7. Yesterday USA (iPhone and iPad)

This is an internet radio, broadcasting retro music and popular shows from the 1920s to 1950s. It is free and is operated by volunteers willing to preserve the history of radio. As it immerses the listeners into the peaceful old-time atmosphere, the app can be recommended not only for grandparents, but also for the entire family.


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