As a computer-aware kind-of-guy for 42 years (longer, if you include my mainframe days at the University of British Columbia), I help out neighbors and family who don’t really get them.
Elderly people, even me, grew up in a world of stable technology. We had two ways of communicating, by letter or by telephone. The only irritant to ever occur with letter technology was the price of postage stamps going up; for telephones, the only technological change was the interface changing from rotary dials to push buttons -- which I never liked, because telephone push buttons (with 1, 2, 3 at the top) were in opposite order from calculator buttons, which have 1, 2, 3 at the bottom.
Consistency is important for elderly people, whose short-term memory is beginning to fail (needed for learning new actions) as their long-term memory become dominant, used for recalling history and remembering patterns of behavior, like getting dressed and dialing a telephone.
Contrast that with the fluid, ever-changing world of technology. Even though much tech has stalled in its maturity, vendors nevertheless impose changes, through demands to update software, change passwords, add two-factor security, and so on.
Elderly people have managed to learn how to send text message and emails, and to get information through Web browsers, and type with word processors, although inkjet printers are ever-present headache. These all are actions that benefit from long-term memorization. My dad, at 99, still types emails.
Out, Damn Security
Apple likes puts an emphasis on how secure its products are, unwarranted given that MacOS and iOS are broken into by malware, like Windows and Linux are. It is, in my opinion, a marketing gimmick.
Part of the security theater requires users to enter a passcode every time Apple pushes an update to its operating systems. Apple uses dark UI methods. (Dark UI means the user is not presented with equal opportunity to accept or deny an option.) The deny-passcode option is first hidden under the popup keyboard, and then later listed last among four options; people tend to choose a first option.
By contrast, Android asks once when you first get a new phone, and then respects your choice as a human being with agency.
So, why ignore passcodes? When there is nothing to secure. My wife uses an iPad for watching Netflix and listening to CBC Radio over the internet. There are no photographs to protect, no contacts to keep confidential, no messages to mitigate.
Another reason to ignore passcodes: My widow neighbor faced the nightmare of a forced upgrade from Apple on the four-year-old iPhone her daughter had given her. At 83, she uses it to read emails, chat on WhatsApp, watch YouTube, and so on.
The Apple upgrade told her to enter a passcode, and so she did. Next time she turned on the phone, she could not remember it. She brought the phone over to me “to fix it.” She thought the passcode was 3414. When I entered it, Apple locked her phone for a minute.
Well, maybe it was 4314, she thought. This time Apple locked the phone for 5 minutes. Over the next day, I tried a variations on those digits, as Apple began locking for the phone for 15 minutes at a time, then for an hour, and finally fully locked it.
Looking online, I found the only solution is to “reset the phone,” a polite term for erasing everything and starting from scratch. If the phone had been connected to iCloud, I learned, then a backup might have been made. The widow knew nothing of iCloud.
My widow neighbor did not want to lose all her photographs, naturally, and so she went to the cell carrier Telus, who offered to sell her a new phone, and then to a regional drug store chain London Drugs who offered to reset her phone for $30. She did recall an email from Apple, who had written her in January, that her iCloud was 3/4-full and that she, a widow on a limited pension, should start paying the world’s richest corporation $1.30 a month for more space.
That was good news, as it implied her phone might be backed up on iCloud. To check, I installed iCloud on my Windows computer and entered her Apple username and password (she had those written down). Apple, to confirm that I was she, sent a confirmation passcode to her phone that Apple had locked up.
It was around now that I noticed that she had indeed written down the passcode that was causing all these problems, but now it was too late. Apple had locked up her phone tighter than a kettle drum, putting it close to e-waste stage in the PLM process. So, we made the painful decision to reset the phone, and hope that iCloud had done its best.
Form Over Function
Next problem. With every few generations of iPhone, Apple changes the sequence of buttons to press to start the reset process. We had to figure out which model of phone she had. Apple had helpfully micro-printed the model number in medium-gray print on the back of her dark gray iPhone; see below. I knew the workaround: take a picture with my (Android) phone, and then enlarge it.
To reset an iPhone, I also needed iTunes installed, which downloads the software to overwrite the locked-up phone. This took an hour; when nearly done, iTunes declared the download had failed. I restarted the download; the second one was deemed by iTunes to have also failed. The third one succeeded. Then another hour for the download to be installed. Then the Dark UI questions about passcodes (NO!) and so on.
Then a seeming-miracle: it saw that there was an iCloud account attached and would I like the backup, last made a few days earlier, be downloaded? The widow was ecstatic as her apps, photos, and so on reappeared.
Overall, the process took 2.5 hours of my time.
By adding much security, Apple, in my opinion, makes its product muchly insecure for those whose background makes them unable to comprehend. Causing one to fear losing all one's precious photographs is not security. Instead of forcing customers into a one-size-fits-all shoe of security theater, Apple could respect our wishes, as Android does.