April 2015 - Gadget Guy MN
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Archive for month: April, 2015

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App Lockers for Smartphones and Tablets

app locker - tech safety for kids

What is an app locker, or applocker, and what do you need an app locker for?

App lockers are great for allowing your kids to use your smartphone or tablet without allowing them full access to everything on your device. Additionally, they can be used on a child’s tablet to again restrict usage of apps that may not be appropriate. The reasons can vary from disabling the ability to purchase other apps or allow viewing of any movie on the device, to locking the internet or ability to get into settings. I should point out that this is most applicable to Android devices as iOS (Apple) does not have app lockers, but I will discuss that a bit further down.

With some systems, an app locker may be preinstalled as part of the additional software provided by the manufacturer (often known as bloatware); this is what I have used for my daughter’s tablet…the tablet that used to be mine. Other options include using the app lock feature from within in another app such as Clean Master (Speed Booster) by Cheetah Mobile or AntiVirus Security Free by AVG Mobile (for the app lock portion, there is a 30 day free trial and then available for purchase) [Note: While I have both of those apps installed, I have not tried their app lock features]. You can do a quick search on Google Play for app lock or app locker and you will have MANY options to choose from. I recently tested out AppLock from DC Mobile and it was quite simple to use and rated very highly by over 2 million users.

All in all, they tend to work the same. You select a secret code that only you (or other parents in your household) know and then you simply select which apps require that code in order to be run. Without that code, the locked apps will not be able to run.

Now, I would never suggesting relying on an app locker as a security feature for saving passwords or protecting against hackers, but they are a good secondary defense once someone is on your phone (after it has already been unlocked) to deter usage for the methods described above. Someone with a bit of knowhow can get around them as shared on the site Make Tech Easier, but for the protection of children and their access to your credit card, they are well worth having.

While Apple (iOS) does not have app lockers like Android, it does have a nifty feature built in to protect snooping on your device once you have shared it with someone. Within settings, you can restrict accessibility through Guided Access. The app will already be open, but you can block out portions of the app and keep the user on that app without the option to play around on the device. Now this solution will not work for protecting a child’s device, it will work to keep your children from playing around with your device and making any changes to settings or making purchases.

I would love to hear what other uses you have found for locking apps on your smart device.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Paul Burnstein, aka Gadget Guy MN – Tech Handyman and Digital Dad

Image byErvins Strauhmanis via Flickr, licensed under CC BY 


home technology help

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Seniors and Tech

Senior and his tablet (tech)

A little over a decade ago, I received my master’s degree in gerontology and long-term care management and have worked as a gerontologist on the administrative side of independent and assisted living communities, in-home care, a national association for long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers (on their aging services technologies side) and even as a product manager for a long-term care electronic health records vendor. From the very beginning I looked at how technology could improve the care provided to seniors. For the most part, I was involved in technology that was for the LTPAC providers to improve their care, but I have also enjoyed the ability to help seniors directly.

Often the technology I review is for Baby Boomers and seniors from the Silent Generation; I am a Gen Xer myself. There is a big difference in the general computer and tech use of Boomers compared to the Silent Generation. While Boomers may have not grown up with the technology as I did, even the oldest of their generation has had to use technology for work purposes and to keep up with their children. The Silent Generation on the other hand, has not had the same opportunities to utilize technology on a daily basis.

One of my major influencers to get into gerontology was a woman named Sylvia who was born in 1898(!). I believe she was 107 when she told me a story of how her great granddaughter had met her husband through the television (hmm?). I was trying to get more out of her as it didn’t quite make sense until I realized that she meant they had met over the Internet. The Internet was not something she understood, as even television had been invented within her lifetime.

Through Gadget Guy MN, I help seniors of any age learn some of the tools that can help “connect” them in the digital age. Tools like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Skype for video chatting with long-distance relatives. Facebook for keeping in touch with old friends and watching grandchildren grow up. Instagram and Pinterest to allow them to follow their interests and see photos of locations long remembered, but perhaps too far of a distance to travel to now. I have even helped someone looking for companionship set up her profile on a dating website…it isn’t for everyone, but if it is of interest, I want to help.

What I mention above are all social-connectedness technologies that are used for communication and can improve isolation. There are even computers and tablets that are specifically designed for seniors and those unfamiliar with technology. There are corded and mobile phones designed specifically for seniors with larger displays and buttons and even the current generation of smartphones have made it easier for seniors to use with their displays that are well over 5 inches. I was just speaking to a senior last week who had upgraded his older iPhone to the iPhone 6 Plus and he said he could now use email on the phone as it was much easier to type and read.

Additionally there are technologies that help seniors to live in their own homes and age in place, such as personal emergency response systems, various safety sensors, medication reminders and dispensers, and more. I will touch on these another time.

What technologies would you like to learn more about for a loved one? Let me know.

Thanks for stopping by!


home technology help