Having parents that are seniors, I certainly understand the frustrations of technology from their perspective. It’s only been in the past few years that they realized the need for a cellphone, let alone an iPhone. Times are changing. More and more seniors are seeing the benefits of technology. I credit the iPad, which often can serve as a replacement for an aging PC or Mac. This helps make for a natural transition for seniors from a cellphone to an iPhone. Everything pretty much works the same way and it can make calls. Many seniors have found a comfort zone with iOS. The major changes in iOS 7 can be a bit disconcerting.  Here are a few iPhone tips for seniors to help you reclaim that comfort zone with iOS 7.

iPhone tips for seniors

1. Increase Text Size For Apps
Apple has introduced support for ‘dynamic text size’ for app developers. This means that you can set a larger type size and individual apps will respect your preferred typface size preferences. In theory, all of your apps should offer you a consistent experience, at least when it comes to font size.

Increase text size iPhone

  1. Navigate to Settings > General > Text Size
  2. Drag the slider to your preferred size.

Once you do this, open up the Mail app. You should notice the font size for messages and emails is now larger.

2. Use Bold Type And Increase The Contrast
While we are on the subject of typeface, Apple’s default typeface is thin and for many, hard to read. We can make a quick change to make the type bold.

  1. Navigate to Settings > General Accessibility
  2. Tap on Increase Contrast to toggle it to ‘On’
  3. Scroll to Bold and move the slider to ‘On’ (Green)
  4. A message will come up that informs you that your iPhone will restart for changes to take effect. Select ‘Continue’ and allow your iPhone to reboot.

Bold text iPhone

After it reboots, you’ll notice that throughout iOS 7, the typeface is bold and should make it easier to read.

3. Personalize Your Wallpaper For Usability, But Not In All Cases
There are two schools of thought when it comes to wallpaper choices. If you find it hard to read the time on the lock screen or to see app names, it’s likely that you have a wallpaper that is light in some areas. Using a darker wallpaper will make it easier to see app names and the clock when turning on your iPhone. You can download this wallpaper we created to help folks that were experiencing motion sickness with iOS 7. From your iPhone tap on this download link. It will create a new window with the wallpaper. Tap and hold your finger on image. You’ll see an option to ‘Save Image’. This will save the image to your ‘Camera Roll’.

  1. Press the home button and navigate to Settings > Wallpaper and Brightness > Photos > Camera Roll
  2. Select the dark blue image you’ve just downloaded.

This image is great for making things easier to see, but it does little in the way of personalizing your iPhone. If you have kids or grandkids, forgoing a slight bit of usability for seeing loved ones each time to you turn your on your iPhone seems like a more than fair tradeoff. If your looking for great photos, be sure to read our next tip. When you have a great photo, follow the directions about to personalize your iPhone with a great photo.

4. Use Photostream For Sharing
If you are running iOS 7, that means your iPhone (or iPad) supports Photostream. Apple created Photostream to make it easy for friends and families to share photos. If you have grandchildren, ask your kids to setup a Photostream and invite you. If they have questions, send them to this quick tutorial. When finished, you’ll receive an invite to join. For my family, I setup a Photostream of my daughter which is shared with my parents (snowbirds living in Flordia) and my siblings. When I share a photo, everyone receives a notification alert on their iPhones and iPads.

Photostream makes it easy for loved ones to share photos. On your end, you’ll receive a steady stream of photos, that are just a tap away. Photostream also makes it easy for everyone that is invited to like photos and comment. Photos that are shared are secure, so only those invited can see them.

5. Make It Easier To View Webpages With Safari Reader
Despite the increased use of mobile devices, there is still a lack of properly designed websites. It is not uncommon to browse to a website that not formated correctly for your device, requiring you pinch and zoom. This still isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be able to easily read a story, all due to poor formatting and at times an overwhemling amount of advertising. Apple has a feature called Reader in Safari that solves this annoying problem. When you browse to a website that is formatted for a desktop browser, look at the top left of your browser bar.

Safari text

Do you see a series of lines, similar to those we highlighted in the screenshot above? Tap on those to reveal a mobile friendly version of the content only, with ads extracted. Look at these screenshots below. Which would you rather read?

Safari reader

6. Use Home WiFi When At Home
Outside of calls, most everything you do on an iPhone requires you connect to the Internet. Most of you probably have a fixed data cap and unless you’re streaming a large number of movies, you’re well within your cap, so it’s not as if reducing data will save you any money. To be on the safe side, you should always use WiFi when at home. You’ll enjoy faster and more consistent speeds when browsing, updating apps and you will also be able to install system updates, where a WiFi connection is required. Faster, more consistent and keeps you under your data limits. Here’s how to connect to WiFi on iPhone:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Wi-Fi
  2. Find your network (might be the brand name of your router)
  3. Enter you WiFi password

If you don’t know the password, try leaving it blank. While not recommended, it’s possible that you do not have a secure WiFi connection. Most routers can be accessed by visiting 192.168.1.1, but you’ll again be faced with having to login. You can usually reset your router to factory defaults and setup a new password, along with providing a unique name for your router. Refer to your routers documentation, since directions will vary based on router manufacturer.

7. Improve Siri Nicknames & Relationships
If you have an iPhone 4s or newer, you have Siri, Apple’s built-in personal assistant at your service. At times, Siri can have a tough time  understanding requests. At its core, the iPhone is a phone and you’ll use it to make calls. If you press and hold the home button, Siri will ask “What can I help you with?” You can ask Siri to call a contact by name, but she can get things wrong. By setting up relationships, you’ll improve Siri’s efficiency ten fold.

Set relationship Siri

  1. Open the Phone application
  2. Tap on the Contacts tab
  3. Find your name (it should be listed with ‘me’ next to it) and tap on it
  4. Press the ‘Edit’ link at the top right
  5. Scroll to +Add Related Name
  6. Tap where it says the relation type (parent, wife, etc.). This will bring up a list of options. Check the box next the type of relation. Let’s say you have a son named Kevin. Tap on ‘child’ to select it.
  7. Tap on the ‘i’ will bring up your contacts. Find and select Kevin.
  8. Tap on Done (top right)

What we’ve done here is make it easy for Siri to recognize a command to call a family member. Now you can simply ask her to “Call my son“. This extends to a variety of realtionships and you can add custom labels for those which don’t appear in the list. For example, you can add ‘grandchild‘. I’d recommend adding these for family members that you call often. The likelihood of Siri understanding a request to, “Call my sister” are much greater, especially in cases where you have multiple contacts with the same first name and/or last names that might be hard for her to discern.

If you are a bit taken back by the changes in iOS 7, you’re certainly not alone. Responses have been mixed across all age groups.  The above tips are primarily for iOS 7, but should prove useful if you are on iOS 6. If you haven’t updated yet, I would recommend reading our iOS 7 review and guide. It will provide you with everything you need to know about Apple’s new operating system. If you’ve installed iOS 7, there is no way to uninstall, but I hope the above tips will help you make the most of your upgrade. If you need help, I highly recommend you join our forum. It’s completely free and you’ll find a friendly, knowledgable community ready to help you. You can also find all of our iOS 7 specific how-to guides, all of which provide easy step-by-step directions on how to use iOS 7.