Not to come across as agist, but old folks have a more difficult time with smartphones and tablets. The multitouch gestures can be confusing, and the design language is completely foreign for people who have barely used a computer. A new usability experience startup for Android, Zilta, looks to simplify how users interact with mobile devices to help assist users with the next generation of technology.
Zilta CEO Lari Numminen has built this for a problem he’s noticed in his family. “Both my grandfathers turned 90, and both our family members live far away. The challenge we had was if my parents go traveling, can we send photos or have a Skype conversation?” An equally large problem was that his parents were wondering how to send photos themselves. Between a Nokia Lumia and iPad, they couldn’t figure out how to use the functions.
Their concept brings together larger icons, simpler backgrounds, and less clutter for users. Numminen also points out with today’s apps, it’s also not painfully obvious where the menu is, and requires some built-in knowledge of what to look for, or what multitouch actions are needed. “If you look at Google or Apple’s music apps, where is the play button? It’s simple things like that.”
The home screen is customizable, so if you like Youtube and Whatsapp you could have it there, or you could just have photos and email. The applications stay in the side bar, so you can then go to Maps, Facebook, or Search without having to figure out how to exit the application.
“It’s a twofold problem, firstly, how can people with less technical experience get online easily on new gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets and secondly, how can they actually find the relevant and useful things to do when online,” says Numminen.
“In the shorter term, we will need to focus on the first aspect, simply getting people to try a few useful things online like video chats and sharing photos via email with family members, whereas in the longer term, we will probably turn to finding ways we can make the internet more relevant to older people’s interests. That means redesigning music, video or photo viewing, social media etc. apps, but we’ll get to this once we have an active and vocal community telling us what they want.”
There are a few competitors out there, such as Helsinki-based LivLiv Solutions, so Zilta will have to reach out to baby boomers faster than other solutions. Numminen points out that the app works for Android 2.2 and above, so if you have an old device you can give it to your parents or grandparents to use. At the moment Zilta is a free app, and is still in Alpha.