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LaterLife TechnoFile

Modern technology has so much scope and power to dramatically improve our lives. However it also changes at an incredibly fast rate, and keeping abreast of what's out there, and how it can help you, is a full time job!

So to accompany the 150+ articles in Jackie Sherman's YoucandoIT Question & Answer series we are introducing a new article series: The LaterLife TechnoFile

Technofile will help you to understand some of the bewildering array of technology available today, and possibly help to keep up with your grandchildren!

Techno Phone not Technophobe.

We previously looked at Apps in our first TechnoFile, but what about the actual phones?

Our first TechnoFile article also touched on the fact that technology can be an intimidating prospect for some. In this article we look at the different smartphones available now and how they will be developed for release in the near future. (A smartphone is an advanced mobile phone that is able to carry out processes similar to a computer.)


HuaWei have recently launched the Ascend Y530 and Y330. They are affectively starter smartphones that can ease someone who is less familiar with technology into using them. They have been designed using a simple Interface which makes interacting with them easier than other smartphones which can be overloaded with different Apps.

Mark Mitchinson, Executive Vice President at Huawei Technologies UK, said:

“The Huawei Ascend Y530 and Y330 are ideal devices for those making the transition from basic handset to smartphone and those wanting a less complex smartphone system. It offers the option of a simple interface while still delivering a great smartphone experience with its quality design and applications.”

The implication being that if you do not feel comfortable with the idea of smartphones, that this could be the first step towards using them.


Zilta began as an App that could be downloaded onto your existing smart phone. This concept, was soon re-developed after founder Lari Numminen found that Apps wouldn’t necessarily provide the best possible service.

"We've spent a lot of time talking to over 55 year olds over the past year and virtually everyone we talked to agreed that they don't really download Apps, especially the kinds that change the settings on their phone."

It reflects the discomfort that can be associated with people who haven’t been brought up with smart technology. Due to his findings Lari decided that a smartphone needed to be available that would work for the less tech savy straight out of the shop. Currently in the development stage, Zilta hope to launch an entry-level smart phone for all ages December this year.

Have a look at the Zilta website here. The most exciting part of this Kick-starter project is that every aspect of the phone is being considered not only in respect to people who are unsure of technology but with an emphasis on senior people. Similar to HuaWei’s Ascend smartphones, once completed, this project could help introduce the less tech savvy to technology, helping them gain the benefits as well as feeling more confident with technology more generally.

Phonebloks and modular tech

However it would be wrong to assume that everyone over 50 struggles with technology! For those of you who are confident with technology you may be interested in Phonebloks. This is a company that believes in ‘a phone worth keeping.’ The company started by Dave Hakkens, began after his camera broke and he struggled to find the parts to fix it. Being faced with having to buy a replacement he started to think that there must be an easier way to upgrade and repair technology than buying a new one.

The overriding aim from the company is to reduce electrical waste as well as highly personalised technology. How Phonebloks differs from others is that it aims to make a highly customised and segmented phone, described as a modular phone. For instance someone who really enjoys listening to music, may be interested in having good sound and vast memory to store all of his or her songs could get a larger module for storage and good sound. People who are hard of hearing on the other hand may be interested in a bigger and louder speaker module. And those less dexterous or not used to phones may want a large button keypad. All the different small functions will come together, differently for everyone. (As is demonstrated in the above video.)

Starting as a concept online, Phonebloks made itself visible to larger organisations, in particular Motorola who had a similar concept but were then bought by Google. They are now working together to come up with the ultimate segmented phone. The Google Ara is one example of a modular phone and has set its own tight deadline, meaning it should be completed this time next year. People can post their thoughts about the project, what they would like a phone to do and how designers could overcome issues on the Phonebloks website. Recently Phonebloks has taken on more of a community approach; so if you are interested, or think you have a good idea, why not get involved by registering and interacting in their forum.

More recently the company has sent out a call to action to the whole of the tech industry asking for all electronics to become modularised to prevent wastefulness and keep products as relevant and useable as possible, thus extending technologies lifespan. A counter argument however would be that making every aspect of technology modular could create more waste, exacerbating throw away culture. For example rather than holding on to a fully functioning module, replacing it with the latest and shiniest design.

With multiple companies looking at improving technology for the ease of the consumer, it is exciting to wonder just how simplified but powerful technology could become.

Modular Tech: the Results are in!


We asked whether you thought technology should become more modular?

Here are the results:

75% of you thought Technology should become more modular

Yes: What we really need is for all of the large mobile companies and technology companies in general to work together and start producing interchangeable modules... Now that the ball is rolling with a modular phone, it might create a few more modular technologies. I for one am in favour of modular technology and excited to see what the future brings.

No: This would stifle technology innovation. Microsoft had this problem in the 80s and 90s as they couldn't innovate without cutting off significant parts of its user bade. Apple made the tough decision to build a unique combination of hardware and software that allowed for innovation as the company was in control of hardware and software advances.

Yes: Technology should be more modular, and replacement parts and batteries cheaper. However this isn't in the financial interest of most commercial companies that rely on repeat purchases to maintain their profits and pay for R&D.

Yes: It's really a no-brainer on every level!

Previous Article:

Bio-Printing: What it is and what does it mean?
7 of the Best Free Healthcare Related Apps

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