With many stay-at-home orders in place around the country, increased social isolation can be hard to cope with. We can always call or text our friends and family, but sometimes that isn’t enough to keep us from feeling isolated or disconnected. Thankfully, there are several different apps and kinds of technology that can help you stay connected to your friends and family during these difficult times.
FaceTime is a simple and easy to use app that allows you to connect face-to-face with your friends and family. You can make audio or video calls from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac computer just by using Wi-Fi. With Group FaceTime, you can add up to 32 people at once. All the grandkids can call grandma on her iPad, your whole friend group can chat together, or you can just talk one-on-one with your significant other. It’s a great way to feel connected when you’re miles apart.
With Houseparty, up to eight of your closest pals can gather in a small video chat room that makes it feel like you’re all back together again. Plus, there are interactive games you can play with all the participants of your video call, like Draw Something. You can even use your Apple Pencil or S Pen on your tablet to show off your artistic skills.
Going “Live” on your Facebook page is a fun way to interact with your entire friends list. Your friends can comment in real time while you’re still filming, making a normal video recording even more interactive. Once you stop your recording, it’ll be available on your Facebook timeline for others to watch and comment later if they missed it.
Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that lets you sync up your Netflix account with other users, allowing you and your closest friends to watch a movie or show together. There’s also a group chat function. It’s completely free as long as you have a Netflix subscription and the Google Chrome browser installed on your device.
With Airtime, you can invite your friends to share virtually anything together, like YouTube videos, movies or shows, and Apple Music playlists. You can customize your private video chat room with stickers and sound reactions, too.
Marco Polo is a great way to keep up with your friends and family no matter what time of day, time zone, or place in the world. Just like texting, you can communicate on your own time, except in video form. Just record your message and send it to your pal, and they will view it and respond back whenever they can. You can also create a group video chat, where multiple people can all record messages and talk to one another.
Whatsapp is a free messaging app that allows you to text or video call any device with an Internet connection, no matter what country they’re in. You won’t have to worry about international calling or texting charges hidden fees. You can also use Whatsapp from your computer browser.
If you have an Alexa smart speaker, you can use it to “drop in” on your other friends and family who have one, too. It’s similar to a phone call but is completely hands-free, so you can catch up while doing things around the house. When you receive a Drop In, the light indicator on your Alexa device with flash and connect you automatically. Don’t worry – both you and your friends or family must grant each other Drop In permission for the program to work.
With your Google-based smart display, like the Google Nest Hub, you can video call each other with Google Duo. Once you have configured your devices, just say ‘OK Google, video call [name]” or “Call [name] on Duo’. You can also record a video message if you don’t have time for an ongoing video call. Just say ‘OK Google, send a video message to [name]’.
Time away from our friends and family can be hard, but hopefully these apps and tech can help you feel closer and more connected to the ones you love most.