Apple and IBM customize iPads to help the elderly in Japan

The partnership between tech giants Apple and IBM, which began last year, isn't just about working together on enterprise products. In Japan, the two companies just announced an initiative that will deliver up to 5 million iPads to Japanese senior citizens, at no cost. Apple, IBM and the Japan Post Group, a local corporation that's also involved with the project, say the goal is to "improve the quality of life" for millions of elderly people in the Land of the Rising Sun. How so? Well, the iPads are said to feature custom-built apps by IBM, all designed with senior citizens in mind -- some can be used to set reminders and alerts about medications, or to request help with things like grocery shopping.

Not surprisingly, Apple's also touting out-of-the-box iPad services such as FaceTime and Messages, which those who benefit from the program could use to stay in touch with loved ones. There are no details on the model of the iPads being provided, but chances are these senior citizens won't care too much about such details.