I have not cried at all during quarantine, which is quite surprising if you know me well. Each time I feel tears on the horizon, I quickly pick up the phone and log onto House Party, the “face-to-face social network.” I am well aware that this is a coping mechanism that may come back to bite me later on, but quite frankly, I do not care. If running into the virtual arms of everyone I love is what it takes to feel safe and secure amidst a pandemic, then so be it.
It’s interesting how I feel a lot closer to my friends and family than ever before. Maybe it’s because we are all collectively experiencing different versions of the same catastrophe? Or perhaps it’s because no one is “too busy” to engage anymore? Technology and social media get bagged on often, but I have never before been so grateful for them. There are the basics — Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype — and then there are the premium upgrades. Keep reading for the lowdown on what free communication apps I’m using to stay connected with friends and family.
House Party is one of my favorite app games to play with friends because it requires such little effort and planning. Simply “enter the house,” and your friends will receive a notification that you have joined. Any of your friends can join the room, or you can enter any of the conversations already going on. If you are looking for more privacy, you can choose to lock the room. Multiple people can be in one room, and there are games like trivia, Heads Up and Pictionary. I have been spending the majority of my weekends trying to guess what an acquaintance is drawing on screen because we did not lock the room in time.
Get ready to dunce dunce dunce from your living room. Rave is an app that perfectly synchronizes the media you love with friends (or strangers). As you stream content — Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Reddit, Google Drive — the app creates a channel that allows you to text by chat or voice. Unlike other watch together apps, it also allows you to combine your phone’s speaker systems for a virtual dance party. Nothing gets the endorphins going like (virtually) dancing to the Beyoncé “Savage” remix with your best friends.
I have been spending a ridiculous amount of time on TikTok, and it has always upset me that I cannot watch them live with my friends. That is until I discovered the Squad app, which makes screen sharing easier than ever. You can share your online dating screen to draft up the perfect response with the girls, watch a YouTube workout class together or even online shop. One of my friends uses the app exclusively so we can laugh together at the old screenshots on her camera roll. To each their own!
DJ Iman tuning in to present you this social chat app that lets you listen to music with friends in real-time. The only thing you need is a Spotify premium account and friends who trust your music taste. Easily create rooms, invite friends and add songs to the queue. The built-in chat and like/dislike buttons make the entire listening experience more enjoyable. Power struggles are welcome as the app will go through everyone’s picks in rotation. Forcing your friends to listen to “Pew Pew Pew” with you for the hundredth time has never been easier.
This chrome extension makes it possible to watch Netflix together while apart. The extension is easy to download, syncs playback and adds a chatroom. Binge-watching seems to be most people’s hobby of choice, and there is nothing like sharing something you love with the people you love. Friday nights look a lot different than they used to, but at least we have Netflix “Party” to keep us going. Might I recommend our favorite shows on Netflix right now?
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