Written by Leah, staff member, Keshen Goodman Public Library
One thing that we are really missing during this time of social distancing is seeing our friends and family. Luckily, there are plenty of easy-to-use, free apps available to help us stay connected. Find them on your preferred mobile app store.
Zoom is a video meeting app that is available on your computer through your internet browser, or on your tablet or smartphone through your preferred app store. Zoom allows users to video chat with one another (or voice chat if you don’t have a camera, or don’t want to use it). Meetings of two users have an unlimited amount of time, and meetings of more than two users are restricted to 40-minute meetings, unless you upgrade to the paid version.
2. Marco Polo
If you’re looking to chat with friends or family but are having difficulty finding a time that works for everyone, Marco Polo is the app for you. The goal of Marco Polo is “helping people feel close,” and this easy-to-use app achieves this by allowing users to send video messages back and forth at whatever time is best for them. Unlike other video messaging apps, users don’t have to be live to communicate. And, Marco Polo keeps past video messages so you can go back and watch them whenever you want. This app and all of its features are completely free.
Houseparty is a video calling app that allows you to video chat with up to eight people. Connected with your contacts, you can easily join conversations with your friends, unless they have “locked” their chat. Once you have started or joined a chat, the real party begins; you have the option to group play a number of games including trivia, Heads Up, and Quick Draw (like Pictionary). This is a free app, though some games have paid upgrades.
4. Netflix Party
If you’re missing movie dates and trips to the theatre, check out this Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix movies with friends while social distancing. The extension synchronizes the movie across viewers so that you can play and pause the film without needing to coordinate the button pushing (“3..2..1… NOW!”). You’ll all be watching each moment of the movie at the same time, as if you were in the same room together. They’ve also added a chat box so that you can discuss what you’re watching. Although you need a Netflix subscription to use it, the extension itself is free, and can be found by searching your favourite search engine for “Netflix Party.”
Whether you’re looking to text or call family down the street or on the other side of the world, WhatsApp is the solution you’re looking for. Using your data or wifi (if you are connected), WhatsApp allows you to call and text people anywhere in the world, with no additional fees or subscriptions. As well, the app can be used across platforms, meaning that you and the person you are calling don’t need to have the same kind of device in order to chat, and is available on phones, tables, and computers .WhatsApp and all of its features are completely free.
Are you missing game nights with your friends? Well, Bunch has you covered! Created specifically to encourage users to play mobile games with their friends, Bunch also allows users to video chat while they are playing. Challenge your friends to a game of Trivia Superhighway, Flappy Lives, or Draw Party, or see what games you already own that are supported on Bunch by checking the game catalogue. Bunch, and all of its games, are 100% free.