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High tech to help the low tech: iPad app offers new way for tech-resistant seniors to connect with family, friends

High tech to help the low tech: iPad app offers new way for tech-resistant seniors to connect with family, friends

A new iPad app that’s free to download and use will keep technologically challenged seniors in safe, simple and easy electronic touch with their friends, children and grandkids.

Above: The app's home page, where seniors access mail, photos and videos. The design is intentionally simple.

Above: The web-based dashboard lets you add approved users and set preferences for reply options and font sizes. The app user never sees this page; it's for admin control only.


ConnectMyFolks delivers email, texts, photos and videos instantly to technophobes of all ages, though it’s designed to be used by people 65 and older. It is now available in the App Store.

Email and texting have replaced letter writing and phone calls for most people, and that’s left seniors out of the loop, says ConnectMyFolks co-founder Steve Lee.

“If someone’s not able to get email or texts, they can end up isolated from their own family,” Lee says. “These days if you’re not receiving emails or texts, you’re left behind.”

Although the nation’s tech-savvy population is aging and bringing its expertise with it, the 85-year-old and up age category is the fastest growing demographic in the United States. Many of these elders never acquired tech skills and are often intimidated by computers and smart phones.

ConnectMyFolks is simple and secure. Only people on the senior’s approved list can communicate through the app. That gets rid of spam, scammers and other threats. “Whether it’s a nephew who’s always asking for money or it’s a random phishing attempt, those emails won’t get through,” Lee says.

Housed on the iPad, the most intuitive platform available, ConnectMyFolks is designed for people easily overwhelmed by traditional tech devices. It launches with three big buttons – one for mail, one for pictures and one for movies. Forward, back and home buttons make navigation simple. “You absolutely cannot get lost in this app,” Lee says. “You can’t break it. When in doubt, just go home.”

A key feature is the simple web-based admin panel, where a designated friend or relative can set up the senior’s approved ConnectMyFolks sender list, select reply options based on the senior’s needs (pre-set replies, typed emails or voice recordings) and make adjustments to font sizes and other interface settings.

The app is expected to be popular in part because families are so geographically scattered. Even grown children who take care of their folks are often helping from afar, according to the US Census Bureau, which reports 7 million to 10 million adults care for their aging parents long distance.

ConnectMyFolks was developed by In the Loop, a Eugene, Oregon, company devoted to the use of technology to solve everyday challenges faced by modern families.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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