GrandPad a tablet for seniors: Your Questions Answered

A picture of an older lady cradling the GrandPad tablet. She wears glasses. The tablet is red.GrandPad is a tablet designed with, and for older people. We featured it in one of our recent AbilityNet Live! series.

You can watch a recording of the webinar, which also included a presentation from KOMP a video-conferencing system designed to reduce social isolation. 

The webinar was well received with over 270 people registering and over half of those attending the webinar live. We had lots of questions and have answered them, below.

Thanks to webinar speaker Geoff Rochford for his swift responses.

GrandPad, your questions answered

1. Can we hear a bit about the related costs of GrandPad?

You can see pricing for the GrandPad in the UK at Techsilver

2. Will you be able to make the GrandPad more affordable in future?

We review this regularly; we try to offer the best possible value for money based on the features we offer on the tablet and the 24/7 customer support we provide.

3. Is GrandPad developing a means of sharing reminders and appointments between seniors and their families?

 Yes, we have a calendar app in development that we hope to make available soon.

4. Is GrandPad intended or designed to be used by elderly people with MCD (mild cognitive decline) or any stage of dementia, either alone (especially alone) or with a paid or family member carer in the room with the elderly person?

The GrandPad can be customised to each individuals’ needs, allowing the Family Administrator to add features that they might find useful (e.g., photos and auto slideshows) or remove features that might not be a fit for the individual (for example, internet browser, games etc.). 

We also have specific features that can be turned on in special circumstances, and with the right consents like Auto Answer or Speech-to-Text for video calls. 

5. How have you made the email safe and secure does this mean a stranger can't access the individual?

When the GrandPad user is set up, they are given their own email address which is accessible via the email app on the GrandPad itself. Only email addresses associated with companions in the family circle can use this. 

6. How many calls are for issues with the GrandPad compared to being lonely or other social issues?

We don’t have exact metrics on this, but there is a good mix. 

Our team also proactively reaches out to our Members for check-ins, this is usually where the social chats will take place.

7. What age do you target the product at?

We’ve designed the GrandPad with users 75+ in mind. 

For support for older people with technology call AbilityNet’s helpline on 0800 048 7642.

8. I really like the GrandPad idea for my mother. She is French - can the tablet be set to other languages than English?

Yes, the GrandPad has many language options for the main applications, however, at this time we only offer customer support in English.

9. Are there other access methods besides touchscreen, such as switches, or ability to use screen readers for those with reduced vision?

At the moment, we don’t support any additional peripherals, but we are always looking at ways to improve and bring more functionality to include more people. 

Find out about alternative input devices with AbilityNet's FREE factsheet

10. Does GrandPad enable speech to be used to control it?

We do not support speech control at this time. 

11. Do you have the ability to make icons larger for partially sighted people?

While the size of the icons cannot be changed, we have designed the button icons to be easily recognisable. 

Recently we made changes to the colours and contrast of the icons based on research into visual impairment. With regard to text, the font was chosen to fit as much on one screen as possible, while still maintaining a large font size that is readable for most users. However, longer-term we are looking to create a configurable mode that makes it easier for people with severe vision impairments to read emails. (possible read the email aloud to them or have even larger text).

For tips on adjusting tablet, laptop and phone settings visit My Computer My Way

12. How do you build the list of "safe" contacts?

For a typical set-up, a Family Administrator is appointed and can invite people into the family circle either via our web portal or the companion app. 

We have an onboarding process for all new Members and Family Administrators, where our Member experience team walks through this process and will help with adding contacts if requested.

13. Can you tell me whether the user actually owns the GrandPad, or does GrandPad own it? In other words, what happens to the device if the user passes away, for example?

In the UK, our retail partner TechSilver offers the GrandPad on a leased basis. There are no contracts, and the device can be returned at any time to end the service. 

You can see more at

14. Does your system allow remote relatives and their remote family members who are using your devices “split the screen” so that they can see each other remotely? If yes, can they then together watch a BBC television show or a YouTube, watching the TV or YouTube and seeing each other at the same time?

Our Video Calling app will display both parties on a video call. We’ve also just added Zoom functionality to enable multi-party video calling. 

Find out more about etiquette for online meetings, including Zoom.

15. What captioning provision is available for hearing impaired users?

We offer a Speech to Text function for our video call app so hearing-impaired users can still enjoy video calling their loved ones. 

16. I have struggled with smartphones not responding to my touch (I am 76) and some of my clients have similar problems. Is there anything we can do to make the contact better?

Yes, there is. There are many types of touchscreens out there, and unfortunately, many found on most consumer devices are not dry skin-friendly.

We’ve chosen a capacitive screen that’s more sensitive to touch to help address this problem. We also include a stylus with every GrandPad if the user prefers to use that.

17. Can you make calls out from the GrandPad or is it just calls in?

Yes, the GrandPad can make outgoing video and voice calls. 

18. Is GrandPad suitable for visually impaired/blind? Will it read back email or use dictation software?

We don't have text to speech features yet, but it is something we are constantly working on.

19. I'm curious about how the devices manage to use the internet securely without passwords, which is often a barrier for older people.

In its default form, our browser is a little different in that it is modified to offer a safe and secure environment. The User, FA and ME Team can add specific websites to the GrandPad favourites list. The browser allows access to this site, but does not allow departure from that site to protect the user from unwanted redirects, phishing attempts, advertisements etc. This can be changed to standard browsing; however, this is not the safest recommended browser experience. 

20. Can these devices be used by aged relatives in the EU to connect with loved ones in the UK? We are unable to travel to visit older relatives abroad…

Yes, a GrandPad anywhere in the world can make a video call to any companion in the world. We have companion users in 120 countries. 

21. Can you shop online, and access Zoom?

We’ve recently introduced our own Zoom app for the GrandPad to facilitate multiparty calling. In safe mode, online shopping isn’t really possible as it usually involves many redirects through various payment gateways. 

In standard mode, e-commerce is possible. 

22. Can GrandPad be set up so that the device sits on a table or bureau of an elderly person and the remote family member can “call” the elderly person, like an old-fashioned telephone, so that the elderly person can “answer” the device by tapping on it or pushing a button? Please discuss.

It can, and this is just how my own parents use it. The GrandPad comes with a wireless charging cradle, the device can be set down on that anywhere in the home. When not in use the GrandPad can display a slideshow of the users’ favourite photos acting as a digital picture frame. When a Video or Voice call comes through the GrandPad user just has to tap to accept and the call will begin. 

23. Will there ever be software updates? - one of the problems of iPads etc - when they update software and the older user does not know how to deal with all various questions…

Great Question. We push out updates regularly to improve the service or add new features. This happens remotely and, in the background, so the user does not have to engage with the updates at all. 

24. Does GrandPad have “storage” so that relatives can download to the device a video of a family picnic, birthday, child’s baptism, or trip, etc.?

Yes, the GrandPad has built-in storage and photos and videos can be shared directly with it. We also back these up on a private cloud so that the content is never lost if the device is lost or damaged. 

25. Can these devices be used when not plugged into an electrical outlet? If so, how long can a user of GrandPad use the device before the battery power quits? How long does it take to recharge?

Yes, the GrandPad has an internal battery and can be used off the charger. We’ve designed the hardware so that the device can be left on the wireless cradle indefinitely, no need to worry about overcharging etc. 

The GrandPad will typically last 6 - 8 hours off the charger with the flap open, to a few days with the flap closed. 

Fully depleted, the GrandPad will be fully charged on the cradle within 2 - 3 hours. 

26. Can GrandPad use Skype or only its dedicated video apps?

GrandPad supports our own video calling app, as well as our dedicated Zoom app.