She loves it. She's fascinated by it, her main complaint is that she loses track of time playing with it. She's using the Facebook.app (iPhone, double sized -- which is a feature, see below) to follow me and she composed her first email since her macular degeneration progressed.
She manages to drop it into conversations. The amazement and envy of a young supermarket employee is priceless.
As with her 2007 Mac Mini, which is increasingly hard for her to operate, I've written up a user guide for Grandma's Accessible iPad.
Very quickly (for time is short!) here are some related observations in bullet form:
- Games are a a good way to learn basic motions. She likes Solitaire, I paid a few dollars for an ad-free product.
- Ad-supported products are NOT elder-friendly. They're too unpredictable and confusing.
- Her devices are enrolled in MobileMe, one of our family accounts. I have a "GrandMa" user account on my laptop that syncs with that MobileMe account. That lets me remotely manager her contacts and calendar from my laptop. I'd use "Back to my Mac" from that laptop but I didn't have time to make it work with her ISP (currently blocks needed ports).
- Old-fashioned desktop-oriented web apps are the most accessible apps because they zoom very nicely. Mobile web apps are the least accessible low vision apps because they don't scale at all (pinch expand doesn't work) and they don't even have configurable fonts.
- Web apps that require authentication are a REAL problem. She absolutely cannot manage passwords. (Almost nobody can, really.)
- iPhone apps with retina-displays support set to double size are PERFECT for her. Very large UI, very simple UI.
- The more "features" in the OS the more troublesome. There's nothing in iOS 4 that is good for her -- it's just more complex (multitasking, "folders", etc). More features means more "traps" -- unexpected behaviors. (Like the "wiggles" if you rest a digit on an icon, but at least I could explain that.)
- It's really annoying that Apple made "zoom" (a very weak feature) incompatible with VoiceOver. They should at least use a rotor gesture for the VoiceOver screen blank feature so the triple finger tap could zoom.
- Apple's Mail.app is very hard to use with low vision. She has to pull out a magnifying glass (which is a feature of the iPad, they don't work well with desktop screens). Apple's font scaling only shows up in the message, nowhere else. It's really not a very user-friendly app.
See also these related posts (first 4 are iPad, 5th is OS X desktop):
- Accessible iPad - the best apps are web apps
- iPad user guide: accessibility and more
- iPad for low vision elderly
- Amazon Kindle for iPad - Accessibility fail
- OS X accessibility - radio shortcuts, shortcut cleanup, voice over and magnify
- OS X and Mac Mini tutorial and configuration guide - low vision elderly