As a result of having been born in an island in the middle of the Caribbean, gone to college in the middle-of-nowhere, Iowa, attended graduate school in Upstate New York, and moved to the middle of the U.S. Southern hemisphere, my personal relationships are less balanced than my, err, topographic history. I go longer than a year seeing my best friends from college, sometimes longer to reconnect with those friends who made me in high school. And sometimes, when life’s a little harder, the hustle and bustle of my daily work life ceases and I return to my empty apartment at night, I wish I hadn’t gone four months without speaking to my close grad school friend who always knew the right thing to say. I know I am not alone; in fact, 42 percent of single U.S. adults say they worry about being alone. This is truly worrisome because studies have found that loneliness in fact kills — and could the next big public-health issue. The feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26 percent, so more than ever, it seems that we should make an effort to stay in touch with each other — further than a like on Instagram or a DM.
Here are five relatively unknown apps that can help you stay in touch with your friends outside of Facebook and Instagram:
1. Marco Polo
Almost like the child of Snapchat and Facetime, Marco Polo is a video messaging app that functions almost like a delayed Facetime. The fun thing about it is you can message friends — kind of like you would by text — by recording a video of yourself. It is really easy to veer into monologue territory if you have a lot to say, but what’s awesome is that your friend can get to it and respond whenever they have time. This curbs the anxiety of planning a Facetime call when you are both available, and unlike Snapchat, the video message threads don’t delete and aren’t time-restricted, so you can always go back and re-watch them if you need to.
Remember how much fun walkie-talkies were when we were kids? This app is essentially that, but on your phone. You can have conversations with your friends with the simple touch of a button, or leave little notes whenever you feel like it. It is kind of like a text message, but a ton more personal with your voice.
This app is like your personal assistant for managing your professional relationships. It pulls information from your other apps like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to create one view of every person, including all your phone calls with them, emails, meeting, social, messages, etc. Once all things are in place, it works out what’s important and reminds you to stay in touch with people. Aimed at professional relationships or not, this sure works for all your relationships, in general, since the app’s algorithm learns what’s important to you and prompts you when it’s time to reach out to someone based on their social media updates and more.
Kind of like Cloze, Garden is like your personal relationship manager that sends you regular reminders to reach out to the people who matter most in your life, so you have no excuses to lose touch with friends and family. Basically, you create a list of important contacts and set up how often you’d like to stay in touch with them, the app does the rest of the nudging. For important contacts, you can be reminded as often as every week, every two weeks, every month, each quarter, etc. You can also save notes for each contact about your last conversation, etc. so you can refresh your memory on the important details and remember where you last left off.
Imagine being able to surprise your partner, friends or family with “post-it” note as if you were together in the same room. Well, now you can. This cute app lets you send a doodle straight to someone’s lock screen. It’s a fun way to stay connected and say you’re thinking of them, even if you’re not able to connect for a full conversation at the time. You can use photos, doodles, text and other drawing tools to get your creative juices flowing.
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