iPad Air 2 Accessories & Advice for a Tech Un-Savvy Senior
May 2, 2016 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm seeking advice for the right accessory solutions and ways to remotely help my 80-year-old mom with her new iPad Air 2.

My very cool mother just turned 80. She surfs the web like a pro, and is pretty good with email (and knows better than to get caught up in scams). She's active on Facebook and Twitter, and can tell you what's going on in the world faster than a cable news update. She's a lousy typist (partly due to long, beautifully manicured nails and partly due to never having typed until her 70s) but fun and engaging, and as cognitively active as a typical 30-year-old. She can't always tell when a problem is caused by the computer, the WiFi, or her own self.

Years ago, we moved her from Web TV (which she found dissatisfying because she couldn't watch YouTube videos) to a netbook of my sister's choosing. It was never very good, with the cursor constantly skipping elsewhere on the page through no fault of her own, and because I'm a Mac person, doing long-distance tech support on a Windows machine (with a now-dying video card) has become untenable. So, later this week, she's going to have her new iPad Air 2 in hand, along with some tech guidance from us. Yay!

For my iPad 4, I have a Logitech Ultrathin keyboard for when I'm at conferences or in meetings, and it has really transformed my iPad use into what is, for my purposes, as good as a laptop. While magnets can lock it to the iPad when not being used for typing, making for a hard, sturdy cover, I never use it that way. When not typing on the keyboard, it's in an old iPad case, and when I'm just using the iPad as a tablet, in my lap or balanced on my chest, I use a cheap, crappy cover that snaps closed so that when I'm out in the uncarpeted world, I don't have to worry (too much) about it falling and breaking. But for my mom, I've no idea what's best.

The questions are three-fold:

1) What kind of cover? An Apple Smart Cover? Smart Case? Something else, like an Otterbox? 95% of the time, she's going to be in her lazyboy, with the iPad on her lap, on a carpeted floor, or in the kitchen (uncarpeted) using a keyboard with the iPad propped up (I assume). Most of the house is carpeted except the bathrooms (where I'm sure she won't take it), kitchen, and a fancy, ancient tiled foyer that would break a marshmallow. She's never dropped the netbook, but the Air is so much lighter, she might be tempted to carry it around and not be so gentle, especially as she continues through her 80s.

2) What kind of keyboard? I was originally going to get her my same beloved Logitech Ultrathin, with amazing typing clickiness, but one made to hold the iPad Air 2 in place, but I'm having trouble figuring out what's what. And there's a Logitech Canvas Keyboard Case that's a keyboard and case in one, and it comes in red, which is her favorite color. But I'm worried that a keyboard+case will collapse on her if she's balancing it on her thighs or stomach in the chair. (Then again, my iPad only stands up nicely in the keyboard when it's on a flat surface, so this may be no more of an issue with a combo case/keyboard.)

A third element:

3) How do I do remotely support her iPad use? In the past, we've used LogMeIn and JoinMe for the computer, and currently use Team Viewer. Can I view and/or control an iPad from a computer using Team Viewer? Is there a better screen-sharing option, perhaps built-in to Apple?

Finally, she will soon have an iPhone (5?), and will be fully immersed in the Apple world, so we have no interest in discussing other tablet options.

Thanks for all the absolutely fabulous advice I know will be coming our way!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese to Computers & Internet (1 answer total)
Best answer: Sorry to answer the question you only sort of asked, but I used my iPad a lot when I was recovering from a shoulder injury and I was AMAZED how good the speech-to-text function is on it. Like, the one that is built in to it. So maybe make sure she knows how to do that if she doesn't love typing.

Most of the seniors I've worked with who have iPads really like the case+keyboard situation, it feels like a little laptop to them and they don't mind the bulk (something like this though that is not for your model. I don't use a keyboard with mine so have no advice there). One question for you would be whether she wants a keyboard that will recharge with the power cord or one that takes batteries and uses bluetooth? Get her a spare power cord (or five, they are cheap on ebay) so she can have multiple "charging stations" where she's likely to use it. Also think about The Cloud. If she's going iPhone does she want all her stuff available to her on all the devices all the time? Or will she max out space and/or have issues uploading stuff (if she has slow internet)?

And I know people say this, but I am surprised how little tech support people with iPads need. Like they ask a lot of questions about how to do a thing or get an app but rarely do they "lose" things or otherwise get lost the way they will on computers. Like, if you have one and she has one the settings are going to be almost identical so you can talk her through stuff more easily than if it was two different kind of laptops.

Biggest issues for my students are: Apple ID and password versus email ID/password versus iPad ID and password (make sure you know all of those) and sometimes when they get webmail with the Mail app and *then* someone "helpfully" sets them up with the Gmail app also they get confused. I suggest not doing this. Show her how to download apps for FB/Twitter (andnot use the websites), stuff every icon she doesn't need into a folder called CRAP and move icons around so she has the one she likes on the mail page. Show her how to do updates. Send her to a library class and/or some set of YouTube tutorials (my mom loves the Lynda videos, your library may have access to those or Universal Class, so see if that's an option) and see if she has a local friend who has one.
posted by jessamyn at 12:25 PM on May 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

« Older Kid introduced to holocaust history too soon. How...   |   The Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett (1975) Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.