Congratulations! Are you enjoying your new (or at least new-to-you) tech device—smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, or computer? Whatever device you have, you want it to be useful, fun, and engaging, and most of all, a tool that doesn’t drive you crazy.
For that to happen you need to learn how use your smartphone, tablet, computer or other device and answer questions as they arise. Of course you don’t have to learn everything by yourself because there are tons of resources for you to draw on. But the key is knowing what those resources are, where they are, and how to use them.
Our experience with BoomerTECH Adventures’ clients tells us that a “fast start” learning about a newly acquired device means greater satisfaction with said device. If, right from the beginning you can use your new smartphone productively, then you will continue to use the device to best advantage. Doesn’t that make sense?
Here are several ways to get started with a new tech device
1. With the holidays just completed why not take advantage (in a very positive way) of family and friends you just saw and ask them for some assistance. This is a great time to access the expertise of grandkids, nieces and nephews, and friends who would be happy to show you how to get started with your new device. Ask someone who has the same phone or tablet as you to demonstrate one thing you want to know about. For example, if you have an iPhone how about a lesson on using FaceTime. Even better would be to make a FaceTime call with someone where you try out its various features. This is also an excellent time to ask your younger relatives and friends for help by asking them to show you one thing they think is important on your new device. That could be as easy as adding or deleting apps, learning how the App Store or Google Play Store work, showing how the camera and Photos app work, and much more.
2. It’s critical to cultivate family and friends to help you learn about your new device but you can’t depend on someone else to answer all of your questions! I appreciate my colleagues help but 95% of the questions I have about my iPhone or iPad or Mac computer I need to figure out on my own. Where to start. Depending on which device you have, you’ll have access to search engines and search bars to find information or figure out how to do something on your device as well as search the internet. Certainly, one of your first lessons should be learning all about Search on whatever device you use. I recommend a short course that gives you the basics because this is such an important set of skills you will use multiple times each day.
Finally and increasingly used by more people, don’t forget about voice recognition, using your voice to control your device. Siri on Apple devices and Google Assistant on Android devices can give you directions, suggest restaurants, read your texts and emails back to you, initiate conference calls, set alarms/times, translate words and phrases, and much more. Want a bedtime story or a joke. Just ask!
3. Sometime you just need to see something demonstrated. And a great place to start is YouTube. Lots of videos with great tutorials. Go to YouTube and type into the search bar, “Google Maps tutorials” and you will be offered dozens of video tutorials. How do you decide which one is best for you? Select a shorter video (say 5-10 minutes); choose one that is relatively recent (in the last 2-3 years or newer). And then watch a minute or two of several videos to check out the presenter’s delivery style and pacing and choose a video tutorial that suits you.
4. It always helps to have a couple of specific sources that answer common questions and are easily found. On the Android side check out Android Central (androidcentral.com) and on the Apple side do the same at TapSmart (tapsmart.com). These are websites that answer specific questions about all aspects of using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. One other site that is often overlooked for iPhones and iPads is the TIPS app that comes loaded on these devices. Use the Search bar to find and open the TIPS app. Short and focused and very useful.
5. You have a new smartphone, computer, tablet, or watch. The single best way to learn to use your new device may be to take a course. There are many courses offered through Maine Adult Education programs (https://maineadulted.coursestorm.com/searchResults?search=BoomerTECH). BoomerTECH Adventures (boomertechadventures.com/courses/) has 16 different courses about iPads, iPhones, and Mac computers. You may find other courses offered at local libraries.
6. Ok, you’ve been waiting for us to mention how to find a manual or user guide for your device. Ten years ago you would receive a thick manual with your new device. But no more. Manufacturers haven’t printed manuals for years. Ok, if you really must have a manual to download and use try one of these: Apple’s iPhone has a User Guide that is located in the Books app. Open the Books app; Tap Search, then enter “iPhone User Guide;” Tap GET, then wait for the book to download. Samsung has a User Manual, as does other Android phones. Simply search for it by typing in “where is my Samsung user guide.” Once downloaded, it answers all your questions. But, this isn’t where you want to start. The User Manual is more of a back-up than a place to begin.
Don’t wait to get started! Think of learning about your new device as a long, fun run not a sprint. But like these running analogies suggest, you must train to get better. Training means staying current with changes to your device as well as your commitment to continued learning about it. You won’t improve unless you invest the time. Get started today!