Seniors experience new technology through Google

  • Seniors
  • Friday, 12 Jun 2015

Life is a breeze for seniors with the aid of Google Apps.

A new world opened up for Azman Abdul Karim after he attended a Google Cafe organised for seniors.

Azman became a Google convert overnight after learning about the simplicity of using Google Apps following a recent visit to Google Malaysia’s office in Kuala Lumpur. Now Azman uses several apps such as Google Calendar, Google Map and YouTube on his smartphone.

“I’m teaching my colleagues who did not attend the session how to use these Google Apps,” said Azman, who is in his 50s.

He is pleased with his newly acquired skills and is eager to share his newfound knowledge. Azman does not feel comfortable about asking his children, who are in their 20s, how to use mobile apps. He would rather learn them on his own.

“These apps are time-savers as they offer shortcuts to finding information,” said Azman, who works as a secretary. “Previously, I didn’t know how to use Google Apps and didn’t explore them.”

Now he can rely on Google Search for calculations and information. When he is driving, he uses Google Map to locate his destination. It saves him the hassle of going round in circles, wasting time and petrol.

Seniors learning how to use apps at a Google Cafe in Kuala Lumpur.
Seniors learning how to use apps at a Google Cafe in Kuala Lumpur.

Property valuation assistant S. Wilfred Chervam, 59, dared not subscribe to any channel on YouTube for fear that his phone bill would shoot up.

“I don’t simply press the icons on my smartphone for fear of incurring unnecessary phone charges. I don’t go exploring, too, to avoid contracting viruses which may wipe out my data,” said Wilfred.

He laughed when he recalled those times he had to get his children to come to his rescue when his mobile device stalled. But the outing to Google Malaysia has made him more savvy about mobile apps.

Like Wilfred, housewife Priscilla Kong, 60, was quite apprehensive about tapping on the apps on her smartphone. She was afraid that if she hit the wrong button, she might lose all her data. The session at Google Cafe changed all that.

“Now I can search for directions and talk to Google to ask for information,” said Kong.

Betty Lai Lee Ching, 60, a former marketing manager, used to shy away from exploring apps on her smartphone for fear of glitches. After attending Google Cafe, she was excited by the possibilities out there.

“Google is so user-friendly. It’s fast and convenient. I learnt shortcuts to get information. I’m interested in health food, so I surf the Internet for beneficial herbs.”

Wilfred and Kong (both seated) were among the seniors who attended a Google Cafe to keep up with the times.
Wilfred and Kong (both seated) were among the seniors who attended a Google Cafe to keep up with the times.

The first thing Lai did after learning about Google Apps was to check out Google Map.

“I showed my husband the street view of our house on Google Map just before he rushed off for his golf,” said Lai, adding that she looks forward to using this app when she goes to visit friends.

Faith Lum, 60, is thrilled to discover Google Voice. The app makes looking for information, a breeze.

“Now I can use my voice to ask Google anything! It’s like having a personal assistant,” gushed Lum.

She started surfing the Internet about 10 years ago and regularly uses YouTube to search for videos on hobbies, especially flower arrangement.

Lum is pleased with the free tutorials that she enjoys in the comfort of her home. “I don’t have to pay for lessons on flower arrangement,” she added.

Mary Irene, 61, a former personal assistant, has been using her smartphone for a year now. She uses WhatsApp and Facebook to connect with friends. She also uses YouTube to learn craftwork which she enjoys doing as a volunteer.

She is not familiar with many features on her handphone and dreads asking the younger set. “They are impatient and would snap, ‘How many times have I got to teach you?’ ”

After attending Google Cafe, Mary, who has two children living abroad, feels more confident about using mobile apps. She turns to Google Voice and Google Map when the need arises.

Google Malaysia head of communications and public affairs, Zeffri Yusof, who conducted the session for the seniors, said that generally, senior citizens may not be aware of the free mobile apps on their smartphones. The Google Cafe session proved to be enlightening for the seniors as they can now download useful apps for free.

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