We already know that in spite of mankind’s inability to fully stop cancer and other aging-related diseases on their tracks, modern medicine and other technological marvels are allowing more and more people to enjoy longer lives. It is no wonder then that seniors are the country’s fastest growing demographic group-those who are 65 years old and older continue to swell in number. In this context, the launch of Apple’s iPad and its succeeding versions are some sort of a godsend-with the tablet device’s ease of usage and without the often painful learning curve associated with conventional computers, the iPad and similar touchscreen devices seem to have been designed solely for seniors-a demographic group whose members are otherwise known to be averse to technicalities.
Depending on who’s doing the counting, there are about 15 to 20 million iPads out there. A lot of those millions of iPads are owned by seniors. If you’re a senior and you’ve just bought your own iPad, you should know that the following iPad apps should be in your tablet device pronto!
- iBooks: iPad’s de facto ebook reader, the iBooks app is an essential part of your reading arsenal. You can make the text size bigger or make other adjustments to make the reading easier on the eyes. It also has a number of nifty features, such as annotations tools-you can even print out or email your annotations. If you own several devices made by Apple, such as the iPhone or Macbook, you can sync the ebooks you’re reading in all these devices, down to the exact page you last stopped reading. Incredibly convenient.
- Kindle: if you instead love buying your ebooks from Amazon.com, then you will need its free ebook reader called Kindle, which is also the name of Amazon’s own proprietary brand of electronic ink-based ebook reader. The Kindle app connects your iPad to one of the internet’s largest catalogs of ebooks, so if you find joy in reading, you can’t go wrong with this app installed on your device. A huge plus is the ability to download free sample chapters of ebooks from Amazon.
- Flipboard: we already know how seniors are big on social networking sites. Now, the Flipboard app makes it much easier for seniors to connect with friends or basically anyone with the same interests on the internet. To say that Flipboard is an elegant social networking app may be an understatement-indeed, Apple itself named it “App of the Year” for the clever way it combines your access to various social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Not only that, it also aggregates your RSS subscriptions, so you can read the news feed in one go.
- ABC: if you love watching TV shows, then the ABC app is for you. It lets viewers watch recent ABC shows on their iPads at no charge at all. A reminder, though: you might want to use earphones to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
- Netflix: on the web, Netflix is a service that allows its customers to order movies and other videos on the DVD format. The app basically functions in the same way, but with the technological benefit of streaming video (perfect for those with decent broadband connection). But while the app is free, you will still need a paid Netflix account to order videos.
- Google Earth. This app reminds you-and beautifully demonstrates-the awesomeness of the device’s built-in global positioning system (GPS) capabilities. Install it on the iPad and you’ll be able to always know where you are exactly-it is pretty nifty if you’re wondering where to go or just find your way around a new city. Google Earth is usually best when paired with the iPad’s built-in Maps feature.
- Zinio. If iBooks or Kindle are for books, then Zinio are for magazines. Many major periodicals produce content specifically optimized for viewing on the iPad-that’s why reading them is like treating the eyes to some candy. With the Zinio app, you’ll get to read the current feature stories in a number of magazines for free, but being able to read the entire magazine issue will still require you to burn some bucks.
- The Weather Channel. Seniors are vulnerable to sudden changes in the weather, that’s why installing the free Weather Channel app will keep you updated on the latest weather conditions and forecasts. The app provides maps, radar sweeps and even videos-just enter your ZIP code.
- Epicurious: if you love to cook, this app makes it very easy for you to find recipes to your favorite dishes-and even encourages you to discover previously unknown but delightful ones.
- WebMD: based on the popular medical website, the WebMD app is a handy and very useful reference, especially for seniors. Among its functionalities is a symptom checker, a list of first aid essentials for any medical emergency, an extensive database of drugs and treatments, and a tool that helps you identify your pill.
This special list of the top 10 free iPad apps is by no means complete, but this selection basically rounds off the most common needs of seniors-from entertainment, to safety, to medical awareness.
Author: Stefanie Jeanne