Donated Android Tablets - Volunteer Project for shut-in Seniors - needs technical advice

I received a pile of tablets donated from my city to the seniors in covid lock down in a vulnerable building, to encourage them to communicate digitally. This requires tutoring them, as well as setting up the devices for them. None of the devices run the current version of Android, and so there are problems with plugins working. Youtube videos have given me a lot of ideas, but I can’t find answers to some specific questions I have.

Any coaching is appreciated. Some of my questions are:

  1. Will a beautiful Samsung Tablet 10" running Jellybean, 4.1, be upgrade-able to current versions of android, or does hardware restrict the versions that will run?

  2. How high can a Samsung 8" tablet, running Android 7 or 8 be upgraded to?

  3. Same questions about Alcatel Tablet A30’s? I have eight of those.

  4. Is it possible to upgrade an iPad pro a few versions? Or is that locked down?

Let’s start there. What method do you recommend? There are a few out there.

Do you know which tablet you have in point number 1? I have a Samung Galaxy Tab 2 that I was able to put SlimRom on. There’s also the LineageOS project for that device.

SlimROM makes the device usable, but it’s still pretty slow to respond. However, it does stream Netflix and Hulu from there, so I’m guessing it could do YouTube (or the NewPipe app!) or messaging apps like Jitsi or Telegram or WhatsApp.

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I’m running Lineage OS on a newer Pixel C. I really like it, and I have had pretty good luck side loading what ever APKs I need for the apps if they aren’t in F-Droid. Just be careful of finding a trustful source if you need to do that. If you can find images for those models, it may be something to look into over standard google or stock images. Maybe be a little vigilant currently, as it seems attackers have penetrated the Lineage Data Centers via Salt Bug.

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Thanks kindly for the clues.

Thanks kindly for the warning.

Were you able to get some of these working and in use?

Not only were the Android versions old, but so were the batteries.
I got about half of them going, then lost interest, and insisted that they donate usable ones, with brand new batteries in them. It was hard enough to get people to learn how to push the on buttons. Time consuming tutoring. In the end, I opted to volunteer as a tutor, and get my head out of the technology, because I couldn’t think of any reason to struggle with that. I have so much good stuff that works. I turned off the geekiness, to get back on track. :wink:


Hello @Lulu. I recently helped a shut-in senior myself. She had a newer donated iPhone and an iPad. The iPad was way out of date: only iOS 9, and no further OS updates possible! The iPhone was able to update right up to the latest (current) iOS 13.

There were all sorts of rigamaroles to go through just to update the phone, and install Signal and (regrettably) Zoom. We had to enter the iTunes password like 10 times. For all the dozens and dozens of annoying hoops that Apple made us jump through, I thought to myself, “this is not any simpler, nor easier than if this were just a Linux desktop”!

It took me like 1.5 hours just to install an OS update, and install 2 apps, for all the EULA’s, etc that we had to slog through. We wasted no time, and got right down to it. That senior would be precisely just as stuck on a linux laptop setup (requiring just as much help from someone like me), than on those Apple devices!! Contemplate that! The ease of installation which Apple products assumedly have ended up being worth nothing, since my help was needed at every step of the way!!

BTW: After playing around with LineageOS myself (and getting into some serious trouble, despite following the directions perfectly, requiring a total, desperate “unbricking” back to the stock Android), I don’t recommend it for seniors. If some update doesn’t go well, they won’t be able to bail themselves out with some rescue sideloading, etc.

If LineageOS was mature enough that it was installed on >=10M devices, I would say, yeah, that’s the kind of maturity I trust to go into the hands of seniors. But Lineage might have, what, like a few hundred thousands installs? So I can’t recommend it, as the community just isn’t big enough to ensure adequate smoothness.

I think you would rile the troops to your cause if you somehow came up with the money to buy a big pallete-load of, say, Lenovo Thinkpad X250s (or x230’s), and maybe put in refurbished batteries if necessary (as those older machines are actually designed to be sensibly serviceable, and can be used much longer than the throw-away mobiles of today).

Then hopefully something like Ubuntu (which has in the neighborhood of 10M installs) would be simple enough for those seniors (with auto-login upon boot). Why can’t an old person use a laptop? I don’t buy the rationale that they must have a mobile device. Surely they have at least a kitchen table to set the laptop on. And they can hopefully still lift 5 lbs. You know, about the weight of a full kettle to make tea.

PS: I think the current rule of thumb for older OS updates on mobile devices sort of goes like this: whatever the current version of Android/iOS is: don’t settle for less than the very current version, or up to 2 versions old. So for Android, only devices that have 10, 9, or 8 are really worth your while. Any older than that, and likely the security updates are so out of date, that it’s a hacker-prone gamble not really worth taking. Online Seniors get preyed on by hackers, on a regular basis. Please don’t make it easy for those hackers, just to save a small amount of money.

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I agree with everything you said and suggested. In the end, I returned anything that wasn’t new, with fresh batteries, and basically told them what you said. NOT WORTH IT. Only thing worth it, IMHO, was the learning curve that I went through. — btw, I DID in fact set up a dyslexic ADHD senior with an Ubuntu based program called LXLE, extremely light weight. I made it so simple. She could manage it. Her laptop came with Windows, and all the blinking and popups and weird new things Windows came up with were WAY too distracting and confusing. That theory WORKS.

After the tablets and phone project, which I thought was a local initiative, I started learning that the dark powers that be are driving such projects, a way to get EVERYBODY hooked online. IMHO it helps them with their invasive databases of people’s privacy matters. Getting people to FREELY give away their lives. Under the guise of Covid 19. Hmmmmmm… That helped me to put the brakes on the project.

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