2020 has been off to a craaaazyy start. If it was a subscription, I would like to cancel my free trial immediately. To many of us the terms “social distancing,” or "self-quarantine" and "lockdown" used to be openers to a very melodramatic movie.
Fast-forward a few chaotic months in the real world, and the coronavirus pandemic has left most of us curled up and cooped up at home, staying connected only through our phones. As parts of Canada and other countries starts to reopen, some experts predict that the state of social distancing might be with us for a while, and there’s a good chance we’ll be isolating off and on for some time.
Fortunately, we live in a technology-driven age, and there are plenty of alternatives to keep us in touch with each other.
So today, we've gathered some of our favorites Apps to help us stay more connected while we remain physically distant. Starting off with:
Founded in 2011 as a video conferencing platform for businesses, Zoom has grown from 10 million daily participants to over 300 million in the past four months. Quarantined office workers everywhere are relying on it, but the big boost has come from its emergence as a social platform.
With a layout that makes it easy to talk with multiple people at once, Zoom is a great choice for virtual parties, happy hours, family reunions, or any other on-screen gathering. The best feature is the app isn’t tethered to another platform, and anyone, even without an account, can join a meeting.
Because Zoom has been baked into schools and colleges for some time, it’s a great app for teen and Gen Z gatherings. Surprisingly, many features mirror social apps, with tricks like custom backdrops that hide background distractions.
However, the Zoom app has recently come under scrutiny for security and privacy concerns. A major update just released addresses these issues via stronger encryption, default passwords, and a new hub for easy access to important security settings.
2. Netflix Party
If you and your friends like Netflix, then you’ll love Netflix Party.
Originally developed by Airbnb engineer Stephen Boyer in 2015, the app was a favorite of couples in long-distance relationships. Since the beginning of this year, its popularity has surged with a variety of communities staying connected through the coronavirus pandemic.
Allowing multiple Netflix users to sync and watch movies together, the app is easy to set up and features a live chat on one side of the screen. Partygoers choose user icons and nicknames, and you can also upload screenshots, emojis, and GIFs. If you’re the host, you have the option of total control over playback, or you can leave it open to everyone.
Currently, the app is only available through Google Chrome, but Netflix plans to expand to other browsers and devices as popularity grows.
Wildly popular with teens since its release in 2017, TikTok has become an overnight phenomenon for all ages.
Following in the footsteps of J.Lo’s Super Bowl challenge, dancers everywhere are now issuing their own challenges. The result has been a host of viral clips that feature short, music-driven sequences created by individual users but relying on recorded music.
The platform gives creators access to an assortment of filters and effects, as well as a massive music library. Videos range between 5 and 60 seconds in length, so it’s essentially a mini-YouTube.
One of the great things about TikTok is its knack for getting users on their feet. In fact, it’s the best workout many of us have had in a while.
Launched in 2015, the app was an immediate hit with gamers because it allows players to easily chat in-game. With the advent of physical distancing, this video/voice/text platform is approaching mainstream status.
A big reason for its popularity is that users create their own invite-only servers, leading to a more personalized experience.
Also, Discord’s design is less formal than many other conferencing apps, which makes staying connected through coronavirus feel more like a party and less like a business meeting.
Due to the platform’s reliance on user-created servers, parents will want to keep an eye on younger participants, which probably isn’t a bad idea anyway
Designed specifically for spontaneous communication, Houseparty has long been popular with gamers, and the app comes with built-in games that you can play with friends.
When you open Houseparty, you’ll immediately see which friends are online, and you can then talk to them with a single tap. Those same friends can see what conversations you’re having with others and, unless the room is locked, join in.
Houseparty was designed primarily for use on a mobile device, so the desktop and browser versions have limited functionality. Also, like Zoom, the platform has experienced possible security issues, but you can easily adjust features to maximize security.
To wrap it up, this pandemic has taught us that there are times when we may need to self-isolate. It’s a lot easier to hunker down with a wealth of awesome apps to keep us in touch, making social distancing more tolerable and possibly fun!
We'd love to hear from you, are there any important ones we've missed? What are your favorite apps to stay connected, share them with us in the comments below!