By ETHAN ROTBERG
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, social distancing measures continue to be in effect indefinitely. But Canadians have also seen the term social distancing slowly be replaced with physical distancing. Because, while everyone has been instructed to stay six feet apart from each other, technology still provides ample opportunity for socializing.
Here are six apps to help you stay connected during your COVID-19 isolation.
Applications like Skype, have been especially helpful for organizations to keep in touch with employees and stay collaborative. Houseparty, operating in a similar style of group video, feels far less formal.
Where in other apps you can call a contact, Houseparty users simply drop-in. Instantly video chat with a friend who is online with no notice or drop into an existing video conference with your friends. Houseparty focuses on video chats, quizzes and games to bring people together—even when this pandemic forces us apart. It’s fast becoming one of the most popular options in app stores.
As Canadian professionals began working from home in large numbers, Zoom became the go-to app for video conferencing. But the app isn’t just for business—you can gather your friends and family for all kinds of get-togethers. Zoom allows for a lot of customization, such as playful backgrounds or layout options for how participants see each other.
The free version allows for unlimited one-on-one calls, but only a maximum of 40 minutes if you have a larger group. The paid version has added features, such as recording the call, which probably aren’t needed for virtual after-work drinks with your friends.
Unfortunately, movie theatres don’t make the cut of essential businesses. We’ve even had to hit pause on movie night at home with friends. But Netflix Party is the next best thing—allowing users to watch movies or television shows online at the same time as your friends.
While it has been around for years, Netflix Party has taken off now that so many are isolating at home. You can download the free extension to your Google Chrome browser, choose a Netflix program, and send your friends the generated link. In addition to synchronizing video playback, it adds a group chat to the screen so you and your friends can react instantly to every plot twist unfolding on your screens.
Rave takes the idea of Netflix Party even further. The Canadian-developed app allows friends to watch the same content together, with the ability to send text and voice chats while doing so. The app supports Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Reddit, Dropbox and more.
In addition to showing your friends the latest video, you can join public raves and meet people from around the world. Rave participants can even vote on which video they want to watch next.
Do you find online dating difficult under normal circumstances? Just imagine trying to meet that special someone during social distancing. Quarantine Together is designed just for this unique period in time.
First, the app will ask whether you have washed your hands today. After that helpful reminder, you are matched with another user to chat by text. And after 15 minutes, you are sent a link for a video chat. The video function is helpful considering you may not be able to meet in person for a few months. For single people under isolation alone, Quarantine Together offers the possibility of meaningful connection — and a great story of how you met.
Visit the website for more information and to be added to the waitlist.
Another app that utilizes video chatting, Bunch allows you to see your friends’ faces when playing mobile games together. The app supports up to eight players in total—just invite your friends and pick your favourite game.
Talk some trash while you play Fortnite or Minecraft, or when you lay down the final tile in Words with Friends. There are also more casual games, like trivia and charades, to help you escape your isolation zone.
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Learn what small businesses can do to survive the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how you can manage your personal finances during the crisis. To stay productive, learn how to keep your team engaged when working remotely and how CPAs can continue to communicate with their clients during the coronavirus crisis.