9/15/2021 | By Annie Tobey

We’re long past the days of curly, tangled phone cords that anchored us to one spot, of mobile phones so bulky that we carried them in a briefcase, of phones that did nothing more than connect voice to voice. Today’s smartphones have a multitude of capabilities, so you might as well milk yours for all it’s worth! We’ve got ideas on how you can do just that, with 13 best smartphone apps for seniors – from apps that support your health to those that make you laugh.

These apps are all available for both Apple and Android devices. Many are available on tablets, computers, and smart watches as well as smartphones.

Health apps for seniors

From supporting daily health care to making exercise more enjoyable, your smartphone can be a partner in well-being.

1. MediSafe. This is one of the best smartphone apps for seniors living alone. First, this top-rated app reminds you to take your medications at scheduled times, noting the proper dosage and other important guidance (such as “take with food”). The app notifies you when prescriptions are low and connects with caregivers. It also provides interaction warnings, to warn against taking with other medications, alcohol, and more problematic substances. (Free)

2. GoodRx. This app is for anyone who wants to save money on health care. GoodRx helps users find the best prices for prescription drugs, plus coupons and money-saving tips. Bonus: it even offers pet prescription coupons. (Free; upgrade for additional benefits. Can connect with the MediSafe app, above.)

3. Headspace. Lowering stress improves both mental and physical health. The Headspace app offers guided meditations and breathing exercises, meditation principles and instruction, mindfulness notifications, and recordings for better sleep. (Pay to use)

4. Strava. Make exercise more fun and social. Strava connects you with people to “like” and comment on each other’s activities. Post pictures, analyze training, aim for personal achievements, and join challenges and virtual clubs. (Free; upgrade for additional features)

Safety apps

From the beginning, mobile phones afforded greater safety and accessibility, most anywhere you roamed. Contemporary apps elevate that advantage.

5. Life360. Enjoy peace of mind and get life-saving action. Life360 offers numerous safety features, including current location and location history, crash detection with emergency dispatch, roadside and medical assistance, travel support, SOS help alert, crime reports, and more. (Pay to use; offers three levels of service)

Useful apps

Utilitarian apps like these turn your smartphone into a pocket-sized personal assistant.

6. Evernote. Take notes wherever you are – and take them with you wherever you go! Make lists such as books to read, restaurants to try, and movies to see; attach images, documents, ideas, recipes. Sync with another device, such as your home computer. Search notes to find information later. (Free; upgrade for additional features, including more storage and connections to Google Calendar and tasks)

7. AnyList. Create lists wherever you are and share them with family and friends. For a grocery list, for example, add an item whenever it occurs to you, and then the list will be at your fingertips at the store or when ordering for delivery or curbside pickup. You can even connect the app with Siri and Alexa: “Alexa, add fresh ginger to my grocery list.” You can also save recipes, plan meals, and generate a list from a recipe. (Free; upgrade for additional features)

Education and edification apps

Your smartphone is like a library at your fingertips. Read books, newspapers, and magazines. Listen to podcasts, news sources, and audiobooks. Search the web for information. These are some of the best smartphone apps for seniors to help take your learning opportunities to a 21st-century level.

8. Shazam. If you’ve ever heard a song but just couldn’t place it – or heard a new song and wanted to know more – Shazam it! Touch the Shazam logo and the app identifies the song and artist. If you have an Apple Music account, you can connect to play the song there. (Free; paid Apple Music account needed to play the song on your device)

9. PictureThis. Ever wondered about a beautiful flower you saw along a hike or a new plant sprouting in the yard? Take a picture and let PictureThis identify the plant and provide you with helpful information. Know whether you’re battling an invasive weed or welcoming a desirable garden surprise. Learn about growing conditions, care guide, pests and diseases, FAQs (including toxicity to humans and pets), and garden tips. (Free; upgrade for additional features, including consultations with plant experts)

10. Merlin Bird ID. From the experts at Cornell University comes the ultimate bird watchers’ app. Features include a listing of birds currently likely to be near your location, with image, information, and sounds; sound ID – like Shazam for bird songs; photo ID, to identify birds using your camera; and your personalized birding Life List. (Free)

Funny & fun apps for seniors!

Games, puzzles, and laughter add immeasurable joy to everyday life. They also exercise the mind and support mental and physical health.

11. WordBrain. Play word games for fun or to keep the mental gears oiled. This classic word puzzle includes thousands of games with increasing levels of difficulty – and hints, if you get stuck. WordBrain comes in 15 different languages, too. (Free)

12. Words with Friends. Get social with your word puzzles. Unscramble letters, create a game, complete goals, increase game speeds, and more. (Free; in-app purchases available for more content)

13. My Talking Pet. Do you ever make up voices for your pets and “speak” for them? Now you can make your own hilarious video of Fido or Fluffy. Or use the pre-loaded animals in the app. Take a short video of your buddy and the app matches up the eyes – so they blink – and the mouth – so it moves with the words. Add accessories, like a party hat or tuxedo. Endless fun, for your own entertainment or to share. (Free; upgrade for additional features)

Annie Tobey

Annie Tobey has been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years. As editor of BOOMER magazine, she explored a diversity of topics of particular interest to adult children of seniors. When she’s not writing, she can be found running the trails or enjoying a beer with friends.

Annie Tobey