Thanks to the virus that must not be named, the government has, much like an angry parent sending their child to their room, ordered us all to stay home. In addition, on Monday 31 March it was announced that gatherings of more than 2 people (outside your isolation buddies) are now illegal in NSW and if you’re caught out, you risk up to 6 months in prison and/or an $11,000 fine.
We’re all doing our best to get used to this new ‘normal’ (honestly, it’s so far away from that) and staying connected with friends and family is more important than ever. In the age of quarantine, staying in touch can prove difficult but luckily, technology in 2020 is pretty ace and a bunch of tech savvy people have made it possible for us to virtually hang out.
If you have an iPhone, you automatically have access to Apple’s own video app, FaceTime. FaceTime is built into every Apple product (iPhone, iPad and Mac) and to use the app is much like making a regular phone call – absolutely foolproof. You are however only able to call people using Apple products, so it won’t work with your anti-iPhone friends (there is always one).
Zoom has been around for a while and has long been used in business. It has recently exploded and is now being used among people all over the world. In fact, Zoom has gained more users so far this year than it did all of 2019.
It’s super easy to use and the organiser simply shares a link for people to join. The free version of the app allows you to invite up to 100 people on a chat and the call is restricted to 40 minutes. One-on-one chats can however go for as long as you want. A premium account will let you invite 1,000 people but let’s be honest, who even knows that many people and more importantly, who wants to talk to that many people at the same time.
Oh, and there is a secret ‘beauty’ filter in case you overslept for your virtual coffee date.
Unless you’ve been isolated from the internet over the past week, chances are you’ve heard about House Party. The app has gone viral in the last few weeks and simply put it’s a video call apps, a face-to-face social network, allowing people to virtually hang out with friends. However, House Party has few unique features that differs it from other apps:
- Games – the app has games like quizzes and trivia that you can play while chatting. Basically, you can turn your night on the couch into trivia at the pub. Only you can wear sweatpants.
- Open rooms – up to 8 people can join but if you don’t lock the room (chat), people (literally anyone) can sneak into your chats. Much like there was always someone that crashed high school house parties, people can crash your virtual party. Could make for an interesting night.
It comes as no surprise that ol’ mate Zuckerberg has his own app for communication and the app, just named ‘Messenger’, is available to everyone with a Facebook account. Up until end of last year, the app was available to people without an account too. Messenger is free, you can host group video calls for up to 8 people and the app has interactive features like face filters.
To help people connect, Instagram has launched a new co-watching feature. The new feature allows you to look at Instagram posts together with friends over video chat. To start the video chat just click on the video chat icon in the inbox.
Iso-life is challenging in many ways but perhaps the silver lining is that we have more time to (virtually) connect with friends and family and man will we appreciate the simple things in life when it’s all over. But for now – video calls are where it’s at!