Blog & Insights

Top 10 apps for connecting with family and friends

While it feels like the world has gone a little crazy and daily life has changed beyond all recognition, there has never been a better time to strengthen connections with family and friends.

Social distancing doesn’t mean we have to stay socially distant – and with modern technology right at your fingertips there really are no excuses.

No matter where you are in the world, there are some fantastic apps available to make you feel like you are all sitting right there together.

So tidy up your bedroom, and try some of these for size.

1. Zoom

Originally created to facilitate remote office needs such as webinars and digital conferences, Zoom’s popularity has literally taken off as Coronavirus implications force offices and schools to work online. This onetime office staple has now morphed into the go-to app for all video needs ranging from teenage hangouts and PT sessions to clarinet tutorials and beyond. Download it for free and check in with family and friends face-to face.

Top tip: Only 4 videos can be viewed at one time, but if you swipe left you can access other participants.

2. Houseparty

When you want to be living it up with your friends but you’re stuck in isolation, Houseparty is the answer. Available across all platforms, this app has literally gone viral since the Corona-crisis as we all seek opportunities to connect and socialise in a way that is safe. Perfect for creating that house party vibe from the comfort of your own home, it’s your very own social network live and kicking in the palm of your hand. No longer a teen-dominated arena, this is the party where visitors of all ages are welcome.

Top tip: Beware party intruders by locking the house behind you!

3. Google Hangouts

Not dissimilar to Zoom, Hangouts was originally created for the purpose of team meetings as the idea of working remotely gradually took greater hold. Fast-forward to today and Hangouts has now split out into Meet (for team calls and meetings) and Chat (an easy way to communicate as a group) – as well as fast establishing itself as a nifty social tool. Join the chat by just clicking on a link

Top tip: All you need is a Gmail address to get going!

4. Facetime

A tried and tested way of keeping in touch with those near and far, FaceTime never fails to deliver those quality video calls. It’s like having a magical device tucked in your pocket. It doesn’t need any phone lines to work, and it doesn’t care where you are in the world. One of the first applications aimed at keeping people connected on the go, FaceTime is still at the top of the tree for reliability and delivery.

Top tip: FaceTime is an Apple product and so will not work on Android devices

5. WhatsApp

Ubiquitous amongst mobile phones for group messaging, video-calls, photo-sharing and all-round connectivity, WhatsApp has always been a solid part of the stable when it comes to keeping in touch with family and friends. Now with many of us feeling the social isolation pinch, it has come even more into the foreground as we re-launch that lapsed family group and dial back in to our relationships.

Top tip: WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and is available for download across all devices.

6. Netflix Party

Just because you can’t watch TV on the sofa with your mates anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t watch TV on the sofa with your mates any more. Yep – that’s right! Thanks to Netflix Party, synchronised long-distance movie nights are here to stay! You can now tune in to the same shows at the same time as all your friends and family – and have a live chat running to register your delight/disgust as appropriate.

Top tip: This is a Chrome extension so you need to access via a browser instead of the regular Netflix app.

7. Spotify collaborations

A sure way to lift spirits in times of crisis is to crank up the tunes. And although we can’t all be in one room to enjoy the vibe, what we can do is create that special mix together. Cue Spotify’s collaborative playlists function. All you need to do is make sure your playlist is set to ‘collaborative’ and your friends will be able to add, delete or reshuffle tracks as you wish. No judgement.

Top tip: You can share with anyone connected to your Facebook or Spotify account.

8. Skype

It’s an oldie but a goodie. Skype has been around since 2003 and is the Grandaddy of data calling.  If you’re someone who prefers to voice call, rather than video, Skype is a great economic option. And if you have a big family, the good news is you can have up to 50 people on one call! That’s one family reunion to remember.

Top tip: Skype recently released a whole new bunch of features making it a competitive option to FaceTime for group calls.

9. Words with Friends

There’s only so much conversation with family members you can handle before you need to turn your mind to other matters. When you’re done with video calls and TV streaming, and you’ve nailed the HIT workout on the living room floor, download Words With Friends and show off your spelling and wordsmithery skills. This scrabble-esque device lets you play simultaneously with friends, or make some new ones along the way. Complete with turn alert and chat room functionality, this is a great way to keep your mind sharp and the cogs turning.

Top tip: The game can be played completely at your own pace – no pressure!

10. Psych!

The perfect way to outwit your friends – and possibly the only legitimate reason you’ll ever have to lie through your teeth. Psych! is the game where you have to make up fake answers to a series of trivia questions – and then challenge your friends to discover the outrageous truth.  A light-hearted way to touch base with your mates, it’s the perfect candidate for games night on any day of the week.

Top tip: Get points for guessing the right answer – and extra points for each player you Psych!

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