What do you need? (If you are impacted by the virus)

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  • Tech help please
    There are 10 isolated older people who need to be able to chat to their support network.

    There is funding to purchase a Tablet for each of them.

    This needs to be always on so they don't need to login or press anything to get online or access their tablet

    They need to be able to voice access video calls etc

    Ideally someone from their support network needs to contact them via the tablet remotely to check on them

    Any suggestions on tablets or apps etc to facilitate this

  • Do they have always on reliable wifi?

    If they have wifi: Buy an iPad (around £400) and use Apple or Facebook messaging and tools.

    If they do not have wifi: Buy the mobile version of an iPad (around £460) and use WhatsApp (needs a phone number you see!) http://www.three.co.uk/tablets/apple/ipa­d-9.7?featuretab=Usability but this requires PAYG for the 3g/4g and they will burn through data if they're doing long video calls (adds another £80-90 per year) or do a contract at £33 per month for 2 years (total cost £792).

    It's a shame you need a phone number to activate WhatsApp.

  • Thanks David

    Yes the data/WiFi issue is a thing.
    We're thinking of using some of the funds to install WiFi in people's houses. Most though don't have smart phones, they rely on land line so what's app won't work obv.

    So you think ipad is is better than an android tablet? The funding may not stretch to that amount. Was thinking of a Samsung tablet. And perhaps fb messenger if it does video, or Google hangouts.

    The always on feature, or at least voice activation

    ( @moorhen fyi)

  • If it's per-house and you need to install internet and wifi that cost will wipe out the funds before you get to the device, and incur a monthly fee higher than a mobile phone bill.

    A tablet is nice as it's large, works for video really well, is more human sized, the fonts can be adjusted up without cramming the screen, etc.

    iPad beats Android because they're effortless to use, not complicated, you'd avoid all of that "where's the icon gone?" support issues because they've dragged it off the home page, and so forth. You'd just dump most of the icons that they'll never need in a folder, and tell them to press the remaining big green WhatsApp button and nothing more.

    I'd go for cheapest cellular iPad available, with SIM cards from 3. If it's a one-off do PAYG and give the login / payment details to the families of the older people to top-up. The only issue here is that it pushed the price of the iPad up, but at least it will effortlessly work.

  • Thanks David
    Ive learnt that the budget @moorhen raised for this support. Is seems around £100 per gadget (unless we find an angel ipad donor) which is why I thought of a cheaper tablet. Which could have the interface simplified by removing / hiding all apps apart from the one they'll use.

    The people are all quite old, some with dementia

  • Android and iOS should both have some kind of kiosk mode, so in principle either should work.

    The Android one seems to be Settings/Security/Screen Pinning, and the iOS one something like Settings/Accessibility/Guided Access. I just did a quick search for "android kiosk mode".

    To be fair, I just tried this on Android and it's not totally foolproof - it tells you how to exit the pinned app, and following the instructions dumps you at the lock screen. So, if they do that, someone needs to unlock the tablet again and then the app is un-pinned.

    There is specific kiosk software as well, which might work and may even be free, but I don't have any experience of it.

  • Useful information.
    So setting up the gadget in Kiosk Mode (looked it up) would keep things simple and prevent the user making things complicated for themselves.

  • Thank you so much for this @velocio. Everyone has different requirements, but one woman lives alone with dementia and I am trying to find a way of providing something so she can talk to her family. I heard there is something you can organise through o2 which enables video calls and that is all. Will find out more. Minimal funding to try and keep people safer and happier through lockdown

  • Thanks @useless that is really useful. The biggest challenge will be in the installation and tbh will be trial and error

  • Does anybody know about WiFi hotspots? I am led to believe Internet providers can just make Internet available to whole areas without entering someone's house?

  • I use iPads at worked which are locked within a specific app. It's incredibly reliable and virtually never falters. These also get data through wifi and are never turned off.

    On IoS within Settings>Accessibility>Guided Access you can lock the device to an app and control what all the buttons and controls do. We lock the device so even if the home button is pressed (or any combination), it won't work and all gestures to leave the app are disabled .

    Edit: Just to confirm, this is for students with severe learning needs.

  • Does anybody know about WiFi hotspots? I am led to believe Internet providers can just make Internet available to whole areas without entering someone's house?


  • Thank you @Muppetteer it looks as though I can as an organisation buy hot-spot access for a number of tablets... I shall try to call them later.

  • Excellent. Thank you

  • Hotspots are typically someone else's WiFi (usually a commercial property) being opened up for others to use.

    But it is WiFi... on their coverage map they're really talking about a blend of cell tower WiFi and commercial properties opening up their broadband via WiFi.

    This is going to be patchy as hell, and may not penetrate building walls to provide coverage within the building.

    Note that the map they link to is not a map of signal strength and quality... it's way worse than that, this is a heat map showing density of hotspots so actual coverage is going to be significantly worse than the density.

    Going in to the maximum zoom is more reflective of the situation, and again... these signals are only decent if you happen to live under a cell tower or next door to someone that has opened a WiFi hotspot via their commercial broadband. Meaning, the chances of it working as a reliable connection for almost any average property is approaching zero.

    If you want this to work, it's going to have be cellular PAYG connection with the family of the person paying for it.

    At this point, as the costs are too high and the cheaper tablets aren't great and you don't have WiFi... I would look to cheaper cell phones.

    Probably something like this: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/phones­/pay-as-you-go/vodafone/smart-n10

    It's £74 as a device, you can add £25 of PAYG data and give the details to the families to top up, and install WhatsApp. Interestingly this device has a feature called "force ring" which they describe as "stay connected with force ring, even if the phone's on silent."... a feature for parents to ensure that they can always contact their kids, perhaps useful here.

    You're going to have support issues, around the use of a smart phone, that you can't easily leave it permanently in a kiosk mode, that it will nag for a screen lock when you don't really want it to have one... but support of software is easier than support of connectivity when you cannot get to these places to reboot a WiFi router, etc.

    The budget is low and you have connectivity issues... I'd downgrade your expectations to a cheap PAYG handset, install WhatsApp, pre-populate the address book with key contacts, tell the families to monitor and pay the PAYG connection.

  • Can Apple be approached to supply cheaper iPads for a good cause?

  • Also... if you had WiFi sorted (must be WiFi) then there's another way to go: https://store.google.com/product/google_­nest_hub_max or https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SMN7FYZ/

    Again, lots of software support issues here... they may find it impossible to make calls and stay in touch, the UI is totally voice based and requires memorising the phrases... but between tablets and phones comes these little home display units.

    For your budget and needs... PAYG smartphone with WhatsApp.

  • Can Apple be approached to supply cheaper iPads for a good cause?


    But this would be a donation as the budget is significantly below cost of production so no discount reaches this price point.

    The problem with going to Apple for donations is that like most large companies they're not geared up for validating and fulfilling this. So you'd need to be a registered charity, have proof, and then make a case... as these things take time and Apple will only have a few people in the UK doing admin for this within their corporate responsibility dept (or equivalent)... Apple will optimise the donations they do to being the large and meaningful. Asking for a handful of iPads isn't going to be on their radar, and will distract them from achieving more elsewhere.

    It's almost the same as "I'm running a school tombola, hey Apple will you spare an iPad?"... the effort to remove fraud, stem losses, and make real impact is all misaligned, so large companies just don't do it.

  • I do not. I can't even visit the link... I have no access to Facebook where I am.

  • Thank you. I have experience getting a smart phone for a tech savvy 91 year old,. The problem there is precision of the touch screen. It is fine when you are there with him, no good on his own, so didn't solve anything. I think the solution will be different fir different people

  • 😅 @skydancer can... You must have an even stronger Facebook fortress than he does

  • The problem there is precision of the touch screen


    This is why I recommended Apple, they drag and drop less easily, clearer screens, more accessible.

    Unfortunately if you go for a feature phone with number pad, you are in the world of "tap multiple times to get the letter k, then tap multiple times to get the letter..." and so forth.

    The largest possible screen with onscreen keyboard is the best I can think of. Especially if the home screen can be reduced to "big green WhatsApp button".

  • That looks excellent. Not sure how to achieve WiFi without the hot-spot. I have a small budget which included a giff gaff sim for the covid-19 period (3months). I figured long enough to experiment with how useful it is.

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What do you need? (If you are impacted by the virus)

Posted by Avatar for Velocio @Velocio