A phone for my Mother-not-quite-in-law.

My partner's Mother has a nice camera. It's a Canon, if memory serves, and is a well reputed, middle-of-range compact. It was bought for her a few years ago on the understanding that she'd use it to capture memories at social events and on her not inconsiderable travels.

Imagine everyone's dismay as, years later, the only camera she ever seems to have on-hand is built in to an antique Samsung POS dumbphone.

Dosens of photos are taken annually with this thing in average indoor lighting with moving subjects. The camera does not perform admirably. This, coupled with her stated desire for a n MP3 player and increasing use of Facebook and e-mail have lead the family to consider getting her an iPhone 4S which we went to the Apple Store in Solihull (of which I know understand the sobriquet 'Solihell') and the nearby 3 store to pick up today.

Despite her protests of being unlikely to recall how to operate the device in the morning, she took to it very well. Navigation required little prompting once I'd reiterated the purpose of the home button a few times. While my partner took on the harrowing task of extracting her contents from Samsung's ancient, withered grasp I showed her how to make calls, do texts, read and reply to email and take/view photographs. Before she left, she was glued to one of the many free Mahjong apps. We looked at the other apps, but figured that if she could master the basics by the new year then we could move on to more interesting things.

What did occur to me though, is that for those who are truly not tech-grounded, setting up an iPhone is not possible unassisted. Sure, you can get through the initial guided setup but that's only the first step, and while It's nowhere near as awkward as my own Mother's Nexus 7 was to prepare for use it relies on the user having an understanding of the device and several of it's concepts.

I don't think this is a flaw, really, on Apple or Google's (for Android of course) part. Most folks that get a smartphone or tablet and aren't tech savvy will be relying on someone that is. I understand that Apple will get you set up too if you ask them in store. It was interesting for me though to see what it's like to do this through the eyes of someone who doesn't meet the entry requirements for the ride.

Of course, most of it is a one-time deal, and I'm confident that after a couple of tech support calls between now and New Year we'll have a happy customer. Let's just hope she doesn't figure out FaceTime on her own.

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Living With a MacBook