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Grandma is Proof That Easy, Bite-Sized Apps Beat Bloatware

October 18, 2012

  • Alex Bratton

My mother-in-law never used a computer in a work setting and didn’t have much interest in the computer we set up for her at home.

I vividly remember her reaction to her first iPhone. After a few minutes with it, she was racing away looking for new apps to try.

She downloaded a whole slew of apps that are now providing up to date information about her interests. She experienced online social interaction like Facebook for the first time. The iPhone introduced her to the world of casual gaming, and of course it became her camera of choice for snapping pictures of her grandson.

Getting an iPhone also drove her to put in a home internet connection with faster internet access and a wifi network.

My mother-in-law become an even deeper mobile user when my wife and I presented her with an iPad as a gift. The larger screen made it even easier to interact with the apps she loves.

Why the shift from disinterested to passionate user?

She never touched her computer because it was intimidating and didn’t provide her value. From using a mouse to word processing, there were so many bits and pieces to figure out.

Then the internet presented a whole new set of challenges. Web sites and web applications lack standard formatting and functionality. Many also suffer from what I call “feature bloat.” Most users only want to perform a few specific functions on a website, but developers are compelled to cover every possibility in one place, making it overwhelming for new users.

The iPhone (and mobile in general) presented two new friendly concepts – touch and apps. The touch interface is awesomely easy to use. So easy a cat can do it.

The apps are sharply focused on one or two key tasks (adios bloatware), so the workflows are intuitive and simple even for the most technophobic users. They don’t require any training or user manuals, and someone who has never used a computer in a corporate setting is completely comfortable with them.

Mobile devices and the focused apps that go along with them are bringing technology to a broader audience than anything before in history.