A mobile phone can be an essential lifeline in the world of an elderly, infirm, or disabled person. Whilst there's been a growing trend for "simple" mobile phones for older users, it's a proven fact that mobile applications aren't just for twenty and thirty somethings sporting the latest smartphones. There is a equally powerful movement in the mobile app development world to create applications designed to help older users with their day to day lives and to give peace of mind to their loved ones.
For users with medical requirements, there are a wide range of medical reminder applications that can help the user to remember when to take pills and other medication. With the recent improvements in biometric sensors in smartphones, mobile app developers are also exploiting the ability of mobile phones to monitor the owner's health. Mobile phones are even being used to detect falls or long periods of inactivity, a potentially life-saving development.
Mobile apps are also being used to augment the user's own senses. Magnification applications can use the mobile phone's camera and zoom function to enlarge an image for the user or read text aloud, whilst other mobile apps are available that will tell the user what colour something is or can even recognise the value of bank notes. For users with auditory impairment, speech to text applications are a growing area of investment in mobile app development, with apps that can closed-caption a live phone call or video chat gaining popularity.
However, mobile app development for this user base is not without its challenges.
User interface design paradigms must be revisited to ensure that the application is as simple to use as possible. Many charities are now publishing their own recommendations and guidelines on mobile app development, but not all developers are mindful of these concerns when putting together a new application.
Reliability is also paramount. We all tolerate the odd glitch in our favourite mobile apps and no developer introduces a problem deliberately but, when dealing with an application that the end user may truly be reliant upon, testing and quality assurance become vital.
If you are working with a skilled mobile app developer, these concerns should of course already be forefront in their mind.