DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: THERE ARE LOTS OF NEW PHONES COMING OUT THIS FALL AND I REALLY WANT TO GET ONE. BUT MY FAMILY SAYS THAT I DON”T NEED ONE AND I AM JUST SHOWING OFF. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Jeff, San Jose
Dear Jeff: I concur-This season brings a lot of phone upgrades. In marketing there are people known as early adopters- they are first to try out a new product and spread the word. If that’s you, go for it! Your new phone will have better security, improved picture taking, and, with a bigger screen, you might download more apps (see this link). But, take a minute: is your family trying to tell you something? Before you get that new phone, consider the upfront cost and monthly payments, whether you will be spending more time on the phone and less time with family, and whether the size and shape are convenient.
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.