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The prototype Zilta phone. Zilta
back to basics

Looking for a simpler smartphone? This could be what you're looking for

Dublin-based startup Zilta is developing a smartphone designed for the over-55s, which uses a simplified interface for those using a smartphone for the first time.

DESPITE THE DIFFERENCE in quality and hardware, most smartphones follow a similar format.

Regardless of whether it’s iOS, Android or Windows Phone, the majority follow the same format and the same learning curve. For those who are switching from feature phones to smartphone, that can be a daunting prospect.

Generally, but not always, these tend to be from an older generation, most of them not requiring the same functionality we might take for granted.

This is where Zilta comes in, a Dublin-based startup which is developing a specialised smartphone for the over-55 demographic. What separates it from other smartphones is it uses a simplified interface which has only one home screen, designed for first-time smartphone users.

While it started out life as an Android launcher in 2013, its co-founder Lari Numminen explained that providing a smartphone with this interface is easier for those who aren’t savvy with such technology, saying for “anyone who’s not young or technologically enthusiastic, it’s what they want.”

Get Online with Zilta / YouTube

From first glance, it looks like a normal mid-range smartphone with the expected features: 5-inch screen, a 5MP camera and it uses the latest version of Android, but that’s where the similarities end.

The interface features one main screen which prioritises five apps (the sixth option features the other installed apps), large icons, pop-up notifications for missed calls and texts, and practically no swipe gestures save from scrolling up and down a list or page.

In short, this is a smartphone that’s designed for those who are switching from feature phones and want a smooth transition. What you see in front of you are the features you really need, instead of a collection of widgets and apps and when you get used to it, users can branch out and download more apps from the Google Play store.

Numminen said the team’s approach was ”looking at what do people do on a regular basis and what they need to see on a regular basis,” meaning only the services they really need are present on the home screen.

Zilta OS How the apps and home screen will look. Zilta Zilta

Another area they’re working on is providing quick tutorials for the most popular apps available. So for those using Facebook for the first time, they will be given a quick overview on how to navigate it and use it.

But while smartphone gives them access to a wide number of services, Numminen found that older users gravitated more towards traditional features like radio and SMS messaging.

From what we can see from our users, they do check their email as an email app, the phone calls and missed calls are the most important… surprisingly a lot of people end up using SMS, text messages are still quite hardcore.

For now, the team will be focusing on Europe first, targeting a December launch to tie in with the Christmas period. The smartphone will cost €189, but those who pre-order can get it for €139. If it is successful, it will look at an international launch sometime next year.

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