Essential apps for the over 55s

7 February 2023

mobile apps on phone

Love them or loathe them, smartphones and tablets are packed with software which can make your life easier and more comfortable.

Even if you’ve lived quite comfortably without mobile devices until now, the apps they offer can be invaluable. More accessible and straightforward to use than websites, modern smartphone and tablet apps are designed to simplify daily life. That’s something we could all benefit from.

With around 2.7 million apps in the Google Play Store, and arch-rival Apple offering 2.2 million apps (many of them exclusive to one platform or the other), it can be difficult to know which apps to install. A fifth of apps are only opened once, and it’s easy to fill your devices with irrelevant software that’ll slow it down and clutter up your user interface without bringing any measurable benefits. Far better to curate your choices.

These are some of the best apps for over-55s to install, and they’re all available on both Android and iOS devices. We’ve divided them into five main categories, though some could qualify under two of these headings…

Health and fitness

Some apps do several related things. MyFitnessPal combines recipes and food diaries, working in tandem with apps like fitness tracking platform Fitbit. Medisafe targets the 50 per cent of prescriptions which aren’t taken as directed, and Magnifying Glass helps you to read even the smallest of print. For those who love a challenge, the NHS Couch to 5K app is designed to transform anyone into a runner/jogger/fast walker through incremental increases in daily activity. Freeletics is simpler, offering at-home workouts with no equipment needed.


Facebook is in a state of decline and Twitter has descended into anarchy of late, so these platforms are best avoided. A popular communications platform among younger generations is WhatsApp – also used by clients ranging from NHS service providers to local takeaways. It’s a more sophisticated form of text messaging, ideal for contacting multiple people at once and knowing when a message has been received/read/replied to. Instagram has a comparable messaging service built-in, though it’s primarily used for sharing photos and short videos.


If you enjoy photography, Instagram and arch-rival Flickr allow you to participate in social media without partisan conflict. Google Maps is great for tracking your current location and receiving turn-by-turn directions, especially if you’re travelling on foot. If you enjoy exploring the countryside, What3Words can pinpoint your exact location, which is great if you get lost and need assistance. Back home, Audible’s vast collection of audiobooks and podcasts offers competition to Spotify’s equally enormous podcast and music archive.

Mental stimulation

Apps are often used to reinvent traditional pastimes. Words With Friends hosts a (literal and metaphorical) world of Scrabble competitors, while Jigsaw Puzzles Real converts photos on your device into jigsaws. You could learn a new language with Duolingo or immerse yourself in the hugely popular Wordle guessing game. Sudoku apps are great for keeping your mind numerically active, whereas Lumosity’s Brain Training app contains games designed to improve memory, reasoning and problem-solving; rivals include Peak and Elevate.


The BBC News app condenses the main stories of the day (and your own topic preferences) into one easily accessible place. The BBC Sport and Weather apps do likewise, distilling sprawling websites into compact and accessible forms. Depending on your political leanings, you might also wish to consider installing an app from the UK’s four newspapers of record – the Times, FT, Guardian and Telegraph. Finally, installing your bank’s mobile app greatly simplifies financial matters, from payment confirmations to statements and communications.