Feeling the blues while self isolating during coronavirus? Here are some helpful apps to keep connected with friends and family

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 23, 2020 08:26 PM
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The coronavirus outbreak has prompted a number of states to urge residents to stay indoors and away from other people in a bid to combat the spread of the dangerous virus that has sickened tens of thousands in the country.

The decision to implement these “stay at home” orders has led to the closures of shops, beaches, restaurants, movie theaters and events — leaving many without a good excuse to venture outside.

Many of these statewide mandates also ask residents to work from home unless they provide essential services. Essential service providers include grocery store workers, firefighters, police officers, gas station attendants and pharmacists. That means even going to the office won’t be a good enough reason to go out in public.

If you’ve found yourself stuck indoors like many residents in California, New York, Illinois, Delaware and a growing number of states, you may soon start missing friends and family (and coworkers) by the time you’ve streamed everything on Netflix.

Fortunately for you, there is a collection of apps and services available to keep in contact with the people you care about easily, no matter how long you have to practice “social distancing” for the next few weeks.

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Zoom

The video-conference service increased in popularity in March as offices around the country began looking for ways to take their meetings online. The free version of the service allows users to host meetings up to 100 participants for 40 minutes at a time. The paid tiers offer longer meeting times and more administrative controls.

You can sign up here.

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House Party

House Party is another app that has found newfound fame as users look for new ways of connecting with friends during the outbreak. The app allows for group video calls with up to eight people, but what makes it stand out from other services is that you can play built-in games with friends in your “party,” including trivia.

Available on iOS and Android

Marco Polo

For anyone who isn’t looking to immediately hop on a video call with friends or family, Marco Polo allows users to send video messages that others can respond to at their convenience. Users can add effects to their videos and there is no limit on how long a video can be. The app allows for texts and photo messages, and users can talk over live video, as well.

Available on iOS and Android

Instagram

While Instagram is known primarily as a picture-sharing service, the company has been ramping up a few of its other offerings as well. One of its newest features if the ability to share an Instagram Story to a list of “close friends” who’ve you selected. So, if you’d like only your friends and family to see what you’re up to at home, you can share that with them, and only them — here’s how.

Available on iOS and Android

Collaborative Spotify Playlist

The popular music app allows users to create collaborative playlists that allow your friends and family to add, delete or reorder songs together.

Shared Google Albums

Google Photos is a great way to store pictures in the cloud and the company offers a variety of free and paid options for users. Aside from uploading your own personal pictures, you can also create a photo album that you and your friends or family can collaborate in — here’s how.

Available on iOS and Android

NextDoor

Nextdoor.com is a hyper-local social network tailored to neighborhoods. Think of it as a Facebook exclusively for your town — so if you’re good friends with the people on your block, but want to abide by social distancing rules, have them sign up and take your conversations to the app instead of the living room.

Available on iOS and Android

Smart Video-Calling Devices

A number of companies are now offering devices to video chat with loved ones easily. Amazon has its Echo Show 8, which comes with an 8-inch screen, while Facebook offers Portal, which comes in four different models.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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