The best apps for staying connected (and how to make the most of them)

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Now more than ever before, the world is putting tech to the test, relying upon internet connections and apps to feel closer to friends, family, and colleagues. Luckily, we’re no longer limited to Skype and FaceTime alone, thanks to an influx of creative platforms that have come blazing into the foreground at our time of need. From group gaming sessions to huge team ‘hangouts’ – these are the apps that’ll get you through isolation, with some tips on how to make the most of them.

Houseparty (games nights with friends and family)

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Who knew this app has been around since 2016? March 2020 saw its highest ever download numbers, with so much of the world in lockdown – and it’s come to be a hugely popular space for friends and family to play and catch up.

You can invite up to eight people to your virtual party, and with games like Trivia and Quick Draw available to play all together, you can easily while away an hour or two pretending you’re in the same room. Only 23 lockdown hours of the day left to fill then…

Zoom (pub quizzing, business meetings & virtual coffee break)

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Don’t panic, those 23 hours will fly by when you’ve got zoom to hand. Perfect for both business and pleasure, these virtual catch-ups can accommodate up to 100(!) people, although we wouldn’t recommend you all have your microphones on at once if you’re looking to put that limit to the test.

When it comes to your working day, zoom is the perfect tool for the more mundane but necessary things like business meetings – but it’s also a great way to ensure those water-cooler chats with colleagues don’t disappear altogether. Set up a daily coffee break with your team and all log on for 15 minutes – it’s a nice way to make the office feel ‘together’ again. Just don’t ask how their weekends were…

Out of work hours, zoom will keep on giving. We recently enjoyed a virtual pub quiz on this platform, thanks to its screen-sharing and chat capabilities. Think outside the box and the possibilities for reconnection are endless.

Netflix Party (for movie nights)

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Can’t get to the cinema or host a movie night with friends? No problem. Netflix Party allows you to get all your friends together in one ‘room’ to watch and live comment on a film or show, together. You could even set up a virtual date, if you’re keen to keep the sparks flying.

With Netflix party you don’t need to worry about anyone skipping ahead or falling behind, as you’ll all be streaming from the same source (although this does mean you’re at the mercy of everyone else’s toilet breaks or kitchen-runs). Netflix are currently offering a 30-day free trial of this chrome extension – just enough time to see you through lockdown (we hope).

Words with friends (for when you’ve got bored with everything else)

 

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We looked up the definition of GENIUS and this is what we found. #WordsWithFriends2 🗣️: @fredmartinezjr

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We’ll end with an oldie but a goldie. Some apps were built to last the distance, and Words with Friends is one of them. A virtual version of scrabble, this is a great one for keeping up with parents or (super-techy) grandparents. It keeps your brain active, too, and will ensure you’re distracted from any isolation you’re experiencing.

Ultimately, we’re a generation that’s inadvertently been preparing itself for isolation for a while – and we’re extremely grateful for the numerous apps and tech that’s keeping us connected. Be sure to make the most of them, and look forward to the day we’re all together again – no tech needed.

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