Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker


  • Masako Wakamiya is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers
  • She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly
  • Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’

When 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya first began working she still used an abacus for maths – today she is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.

Frustrated by the lack of interest from the tech industry in engaging older people, she taught herself to code and set about doing it herself.

The over 60s, she insists, need to actively search out new skills to stay nimble.

“As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it’s motivating,” she says.

“Once you’ve achieved your professional life, you should return to school. In the era of the internet, if you stop learning, it has consequences for your daily life,” Wakamiya explains during an AFP interview at her home near Tokyo.

She became interested in computers in the 1990s when she retired from her job as a bank clerk. It took her months to set up her first system, beginning with BBS messaging, a precursor to the Internet, before building her skills on a Microsoft PC, and then Apple’s Mac and iPhones.

She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly, but a repeated lack of response led her to take matters into her own hands.

Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’ one of Japan’s first dedicated app games for the over-60s – she is now in such demand that this year Apple invited her to participate at their prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference, where she was the oldest app creator to take part.

‘Source of inspiration’
‘Hinadan’ – ‘the doll staircase’ – was inspired by the Hina Matsuri, a doll festival which takes place every March, where ornamental dolls representing the emperor, his family and their guests are displayed in a specific arrangement.

In Wakamiya’s app, users have to put them in the correct positions – a task which is harder than it sounds, requiring memorisation of the complex arrangements.

The app, which is currently only available in Japanese, has been downloaded 42,000 times with hundreds of positive comments from users.

And while these figures are relatively small compared to Japan’s big-hitting apps which are downloaded in their millions, ‘Hinadan’ has proved popular enough that Wakamiya plans to release English, Chinese and possibly French versions of the app before next year’s festival.

Its success has propelled her on to the tech world stage, despite the industry’s reputation for being notoriously ageist

In Silicon Valley, workers in their 40s are considered old by some firms and according to media reports citing research firm Payscale, the median age for an employee at Facebook is 29 and at Apple is 31.

But international tech firms and start-ups are slowly waking up to the economic potential of providing for silver surfers, and Wakamiya has already met with Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook.

Wakamiya recalls: “He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app. I explained that I’d thought about this in my programming – recognising that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well.”

“Mr Cook complimented me,” she says proudly, adding that he had hailed her as a “source of inspiration”.

No time for sickness
Wakamiya concedes that she finds “writing lines of code is difficult” but has a voracious appetite to learn more.

“I want to really understand the fundamentals of programming, because at the moment I only learned the elements necessary for creating Hinadan,” she explains.

More than a quarter of Japan’s population is aged 65 and above, and this is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2055. The government is struggling to ensure its population remains active and healthy – and so also see the dynamic octogenarian as an inspiration.

“I would like to see all Japanese elderly people have the same motivation,” one official told AFP.

Wakamiya says her ultimate goal is to come up with “other apps that can entertain older people and help transmit to young people the culture and traditions we old people possess”.

“Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country’s economy,” said Wakamiya, who took up the piano at 75.

Hinting that her good health is down to an active mind and busy life, she adds: “I am so busy everyday that I have no time to look for diseases.”


Giant HP Screen With Pop-up Camera May Be Too Pricey for Small Businesses

The HP Envy Curved All-In-One desktop 34 has all the bells, whistles you'd want. It's also got an asking price that's right for only some small businesses.

The new generation of personal computers are not only beautifully designed, but they come packed with some great components. And the new HP (NYSE:HPQ) Envy Curved AiO 34 that was just unveiled at CES 2017 more than delivers in terms of looks and specs.

A Peek at the HP Envy Curved All-In-One Desktop 34

The AiO 34 is striking. The full setup only has the keyboard, mouse and a floating curved screen that is held with a single bar to the base. This is minimalist design at its best.

The HP Envy Curved All-In-One desktop 34 has all the bells, whistles you'd want. It's also got an asking price that's right for only some small businesses.

The 34″ curved 3440×1440 IPS 4K screen is only 16.9 mm thick, and it has a micro-edge display that packs more screen area into a smaller footprint. And the HP privacy IR camera and microphone are designed to pop only when they are being used from the top of the screen.

The HP Envy Curved All-In-One desktop 34 has all the bells, whistles you'd want. It's also got an asking price that's right for only some small businesses.

The base, which runs almost the entire width of the screen, houses everything for the Envy. That includes either a Core i5 or Core i7 quad-core Kaby Lake processor and different memory, storage and discreet graphics configurations. You can get: up to 16GB of DDR4/2133 RAM; 1TB SSHD, 256 GB SSD plus 1TB HDD, 256GB SSD plus 2TB HDD; and an AMD Radeon RX 460 or Nvidia GTX 950MX graphics cards.

The simplicity in design extends to the base, with an audio dial that lets you control the Bang & Olufsen speakers and a wireless charger for your portable devices. And when it comes to ports, the Envy is very generous, giving you 4 USB 3.0 Type A and one USB Type C connections with Thunderbolt 3 support along with both HDMI-in and –out.

The HP Envy Curved All-In-One desktop 34 has all the bells, whistles you'd want. It's also got an asking price that's right for only some small businesses.

This is an all-in-one computer that is loaded, and the price, which will start at $1,730, reflects that fact. For small businesses in the creative and design field, the price can be justified, but for regular communications and day to day computing needs, there are more affordable options.

Image: HP


Apple Introduces Long-Awaited iPhone 6; Phablet Unveiled, Too

iPhone users, your day has finally arrived. Apple just introduced the much-anticipated iPhone 6 at an event near the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Actually, Apple introduced a pair of iPhone 6s (pictured below). One is the latest generation in the iPhone line. The other is what could be considered a phablet, what Apple is calling the iPhone 6 Plus.

In an official release on the Apple website, company CEO Tim Cook explains:

“iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the biggest advancements in iPhone history.”

The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display. The Plus model will sport a 5.5-inch display. Each of these smartphones will have Apple’s Retina HD display. The iPhone 6 resolution will be 1334 x 750 px. The iPhone 6 Plus will have a full HD 1920 x 1080 px resolution.

Each of the smartphones will be built on a 64-bit “desktop-class” architecture running on an A8 chip and an M8 motion coprocessor. The phones will also have the new iOS8, the latest iPhone operating system, installed.

The A8 chip is faster and 50 percent more efficient than the previous A7 chip included in previous iPhone iterations. This chip will improve the CPU performance and allow users to run more graphics-intensive apps and games. But it will also extend the life of the phone’s battery charge. Apple says the new iPhones can handle 12 hours of LTE-connection browsing.

iphone 6

The M8 motion coprocessor, Apple says, can measure your activity from advanced sensors, including a barometer.

Apple also says that iPhone 6 supports more LTE bands than other smartphones on the market. WiFi browsing will be up to 3-times faster on the iPhone 6, too.

As had been rumored, Apple also introduced Apple Pay with both iPhones. This feature utilizes Bluetooth, the thumbprint scanner in the phone’s Home button, and NFC technology. It allows you to make payments from your iPhone 6 using credit cards you store in Passport.

Using the fingerprint ID technology, payments can also be made from the Apple Store and iTunes using just a thumbprint.

iphone 6 3

Both new iPhones will have an 8-megapixel iSight camera with 1.5µ pixels rear-mounted camera. That camera can also shoot 1080p HD video at 30 or 60 frames per second.

The FaceTime, or front-facing, camera on the new iPhones will shoot 1.2-megapixel photos at a 1280 x 960 resolution. That camera can also shoot 720p HD video.

iPhone 6 will be offered through carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

With 16GB of storage, the iPhone 6 will start at $199. The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299. For 64GB, the prices are $299 ad $399 respectively. Apple has also introduced the iPhone 6s with 128GB of storage. They start at $399 for iPhone 6 and $499 for the iPhone 6 Plus. All prices include a required two-year contract from the carrier.

Pre-orders will be taken for the iPhone 6s starting on Sept. 12. They’ll be first available on Sept. 19, according to a report.

Image: Apple


Microsoft Drops Price of Surface Pro Tablets, Too

microsoft surface pro

If your business is looking for a powerful tablet but unable to budget for a high end price, there’s more good news from Microsoft.

The Redmond, Washington-based software giant has decided to cut the price on its Surface Pro tablet by $100 after a similar price cut on the Surface RT announced last month. The price reduction for U.S. customers began this month and will likely be permanent, reports

Price Cuts on Surface RT Successful Thus Far

The reason for the latest price reduction is simple. Microsoft says the recent cut in the price of its Surface RT tablet computers has already boosted sales.

Remember, the price of the Surface RT was drastically cut by about 30 percent and costs just $349 in most markets today.

The Surface Pro has already been reduced in most major markets around the world. For example, the Microsoft website now lists the device starting at $799. The company reportedly took a $900 million loss on the Surface RT in the recent quarter.

New Price Better for Small Business

Frankly, the price cut on the Surface Pro is bigger news potentially for small businesses than the earlier cut in price on the Surface RT. So what’s the difference?

Ultimately the distinction comes down to the operating system. The Surface RT runs an RT version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 different in several ways from the regular Windows 8 system. Most importantly though, the RT version won’t run software that works on earlier Windows versions, big trouble for some small businesses that need devices compatible with software they are using on desktop computers.

By comparison, the Surface Pro runs the full version of Windows 8, making it more compatible with the older Windows software many small businesses may still rely on.  It’s an important distinction, because one of the key attractions of a Windows tablet is the ability to run Windows office and productivity products on it with ease, just as if you are working on your desktop computer.