Of all the inventions our generation has seen over the last 50 years, the cell phone may just be the most influential.
When our dads hit the Big 5-0, asking for a new phone for their birthdays would have been a pretty expensive request, considering that the cost for a good bag phone was around $800. And then, our dads had to be willing to pay $49 a month for a measly 30 minutes of usage.
In addition to the cost, bag phones were never really seen by our parents as a convenience, but were more viewed as a constraint. The 50-year olds of 1991 couldn’t imagine that being accessible to everyone they knew, all day, every day, would bring ANY kind of pleasure to their quality of life.
The old rotary phone on the wall, or the Princess phone in the den, or even the new push-button phone on the bar in the kitchen was totally fine with our Dads of the ’90’s.
Today, anyone Over Fifty would be downright delighted to receive the latest smart phone for a Big 5-0 birthday gift. And we don’t mind paying the $$$ it takes to have one, because we are totally and unashamedly dependent on the little contraptions!
For us, the benefit of 24/7 accessibility to our families and friends far outweighs any downside of having a cell phone.
Actually, we would be pretty hard-pressed to come up with a downside.
Not only is the accessibility factor a good thing for us, we have also learned to use our phones to find our way around a new city, light the path we trod, and take high quality pictures for our blogs!
Tania Stephens’ blog 50 is Not Old is taking Pinterest by storm, featuring ways to style your Over Fifty wardrobe. Tania sets up her smartphone on a tripod on her very own front porch and snaps away. Pretty cool.
While we do use our phones for communication purposes, we’re growing more and more attached to the actual convenience of having them. What is it that makes our smartphones so convenient?
Mostly, it’s the clever little icons that appear on our screen called apps.
Search the App Store any time, and you’ll find jillions of them, but how many will you use? It helps to have some recommendations. Otherwise, it’s easy to download – and then be disappointed in – apps that just don’t really fit.
Here is a list of 13 FREE apps that everyone Over Fifty should have on their smartphones.
Instacart. Of all the apps on my phone, this one could be the most revolutionary! Just keep a running grocery list right on the app, then when you’re ready to order, choose a preferred two-hour window of delivery option, and click! The hardest part is putting away all the groceries. You can change the delivery address and send groceries to your parents, your kids, a friend in need, a non-profit you support, and even to yourself at your AirB&B on vacation. If Instacart delivers in your area, you can use my code for $10 off your first order: BMCDEARMON2.
Bitmoji. This is a super-fun app that lets you create your cutest cartoon self. Once you’ve selected the face you like, the hair you wish you had (lol) and the physical attributes you think you see in the mirror every morning (muscles), then you’ve created your Bitmoji! It connects with your phone’s texting feature, so that you can add a whole new dimension to communicating with those you love. You’ll love this one!
Southwest Airlines. Here in Texas, we travel a lot on Southwest Airlines. It’s easy to check flight status from the app and then do everything else from check in to book a rental car. For the frequent flyer, this app is a true time saver.
Starbucks. Can you believe it? On the way out the door on Starbucks Friday, we can order our favorite espresso drinks and pick them up in as little as 3 minutes at our favorite locations! It’s amazing, really, when you think about it. Extra hot? Fewer shots? A pastry to go with it? Easy peasy. Such convenience.
Uber. If Uber had popped up in Elk City, Oklahoma when my grandparents lived there, they would have thought that idea was as spacey as flying around with the Jetsons! Number one, they always wanted to do their own driving. Number two, they would have felt completely beholden to anyone who did that kind of favor for them. They would have needed to take cookies or something. There’s not much we could have said to convince them that it was ok, but today, there’s no convincing needed. Uber is a definite game-changer.
Pillow. If you are struggling to get into a good sleep pattern, Pillow is for you. If you wonder whether you’re tossing and turning more than you know, Pillow can help you find out. With a few simple steps, you can personalize the app, lay your smart phone on the bedside table, and start tracking your sleep stats. Sweet dreams!
Shutterfly. Downsizing is the name of the game for Over Fiftyers these days. One of the most difficult parts of our lives to size down is the boxes and stacks and albums of photos we’ve accumulated over the years! With the camera on your smart phone, you can take pictures of your pictures and upload them onto Shutterfly’s free storage website. From there, you can make digital books to share, design a one-of-a-kind photo coffee mug, and even make decks of cards with your favorite pics. All from your p-h-o-n-e. I’ve been able to throw away tub after plastic tub of photos by using this method. Some of you will have a jaw-dropping reaction to that, and, believe me, I so get it. But once you try it, you’ll love it!
Shazam. Gone are the days when you hear a song and wonder who’s singing it. Just point the Shazam app in the direction of a song, click the icon, and in about half-a-second, you’ll know. How cool is that?
Overdrive. If you’re a reader, you will love the Overdrive app. It allows you to pair up with your local library, check out digital copies from your favorite authors, and read from your browser on your laptop or download onto your smart phone for reading without WiFi. Audiobooks and movies are available, as well. Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of going to sleep with earphones plugged into my iPad, volume low, listening to Debbie Macomber books. So relaxing!
RunPee. Here’s a brilliant idea if there ever was one. RunPee (recommended by a friend after her daughter said, hey, mom, you should get the RunPee app – lol) actually alerts you to head to the restroom at just the right time in the movie theater! You don’t have to worry about missing a critical part of the story. Now, if someone would design a road trip RunPee, letting you know just exactly how long you’re gonna hafta hold it.
Instagram. If you’re not logging into Instagram from your phone every day at least once, you are in the minority. Like way in the minority. Did you know that over 350 MILLION people are using Instagram every single day? That’s more than the whole population of the United States. Over Fiftyers are a little slow arriving to the Instaparty, but we’ll get there. #instaiswhereitsat
Pandora. All the music we loved in the 70’s and 80’s, plus any new artists we discover from using our Shazam apps – right here at our fingertips through the Pandora app? Yes. Just pair your smart phone with a wireless speaker and you can listen to any and all your faves. If you have any trouble pairing, any of the grandkids who are at least 5 years old can probably help. My favorite Pandora stations include Earth Wind & Fire, Steve Tyrell, Phillips Craig and Dean, and Thomas Rhett. It’s so cool how Pandora easily creates a mix of music that fits your taste so well.
Snapchat. If you haven’t had a good laugh in the last two days, you are primed and ready for Snaphat. Sure, you can use this app to take photos, add captions (or not) and send to your kids and friends with just one click, but the real fun is in the filters. I don’t want to spoil it for you by trying to explain something you just can’t understand until you see it for yourself. And oh – I gotta go check my Snaps. That big number in the red circle means I have one waiting to view!
Seriously, how did we ever live without these things?
I kinda miss the sound of the rotary dial, but when my granddaughter sends me a delightful Snapchat photo, I forget all about it.
Encouraging intentional adventure and APPlying some new conveniences to your day,
PS – Do you have some favorite smartphone apps? Share in the comments below – and remember to sign up to receive my weekly newsletter here!