DEAR MS SMARTPHONE: I AM POSTING FOR MY GRANDMA, ROSAE. SHE IS 81 AND QUITE HEALTHY. SHE LIVES ALONE IN A BIG SUBURB WHERE THERE IS NOT A LOT OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. I TELL HER THAT SHE NEEDS TO GET A NEW PHONE AND USE RIDESHARE TO TRAVEL AROUND. SHE IS RESISTANT TO THE IDEA. Granddaughter, Irvine
Dear Grandaughter: I commend you for taking charge and for helping out with your family. You did not mention whether or not your Grandma Rosae still drives. If she does, she could save a lot of money, up to $7,000 a year by no longer keeping a car, paying insurance, and doing vehicle maintenance. Meanwhile she could benefit by having a safer means of transportation, one that provides door-to-door service ( e.g., no need to find a parking space), and 24/7 availability. There is considerable research that shows that older people who keep more active and mobile also stay healthier. Email me if you want the references. In the interim, take a few rideshare trips with your Grandma, make her comfortable with the apps, and show her how convenient it can be.
DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: I DON’T GET THOSE LITTLE SQUIGGLY ICONS ON THE TOP OF THE PHONE SCREEN. I AM TOO EMBARRASSED TO ASK WHAT THOSE IMAGES ARE SUPPOSED TO MEAN. Rory, Fontana
Dear Rory: You should not feel shy or embarrassed. What you describe is more common than you think. For example, what is a circle with a half closed arrow? Sometimes you can hover over the image with your finger and a descriptive label will pop up. But, I assume you tried that. So, as a first step, try to describe the mysterious icon in an online search… you’ll be surprised! You could also get an instructional book for your phone or look on YouTube. And, check out classes at the phone stores. Many of these are free.
DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: IN YOUR OPINION, WHICH PHONES- APPLE OR ANDROID- ARE BETTER FOR USERS WHO WANT TO USE TRANSIT APPS? Nick, Omaha NE.
Dear Nick: It is the policy of Dear Ms. Smartphone to not endorse particular brands or recommend operating systems. Whichever phone you pick, the key is to become knowledgeable and informed with its many features. For transportation apps, make sure that you can access the phone’s built in compass. Download the maps you find easiest to navigate with. And, make sure, the phone has a security system you trust because in the near future, transit fares will be loaded directly on smartphones.