Over the last few weeks, more than a third of the global population has been placed on some form of coronavirus lockdown. Even many of us who aren’t required to are still practicing social distancing and postponing all social plans until further notice.
As we do our part to help flatten the curve, we’re all doing our best to adjust to this new (and temporary) lifestyle. We’re coming up with ways to stay fit while working from home, doing our best to stay productive despite distractions, and watching more Netflix than we ever thought possible.
But what about when you just miss your friends and family?
Of course, self-isolation can be pretty lonely. But thanks to technology, game nights with the crew and happy hours with your colleagues don’t have to stop. You just have to get a bit creative!
To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the best remote work tools, social media apps, and virtual party starters that you can use to help you stay social while social distancing.
Price: Free, paid for extra games
Available on: iOS, Android, macOS, Chrome
What is House Party:
Described by its creators as a “face to face social network,” House Party is a fun way to connect with friends and family through video calls and games.
The app allows for up to 8 people to be on a video call at once and offers popular games like Heads Up!, Quick Draw, and a Cards-Against-Humanity-style game called Chips and Guac. House Party definitely feels a bit more geared toward the Gen Z and Millenial crowds at times, so users may want to consider that before having young kids or older family members join in for virtual game night.
Available on: iOS, Android, Chrome
What is Hangouts: Hangouts and Duo are communication platforms from Google. Hangouts allows users to send instant messages or make video calls of up to 25 people. Duo is only used for video chats for up to 12 people. You can use Hangouts through the mobile app, Chrome extension, or through your Gmail account. Duo can be used on phones, tablets, computers, and smart displays.
If you’re on the internet, you probably have a Gmail account, which means you probably have Hangouts. You may have even used it at some point for work. Hangouts is an easy to use, straight forward platform, which makes it great for family and friends of all ages. If you’re not feeling up for a video call, Hangouts can be used for simple text chatting as well.
Duo is a downloadable app that could be considered Google’s answer to Apple’s FaceTime, though it can be used on both Android and iPhones. It’s equally simple to use, maybe even more so than Hangouts.
Available on: iOS, Mac
What is Facetime: FaceTime is Apple’s video chat platform. FaceTime allows video calls of up to 32 people. You can use FaceTime on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer.
Facetime is similar to Hangouts in that many people are already familiar with it. It’s also very straight forward and easy to use, making it a great option for technologically challenged family members. One potential downside of Facetime is that it is only available on Apple products, meaning Windows and Android users are left out of the party.
Available on: Chrome
What is Netflix Party: Netflix Party is a free Chrome extension that allows users to remotely watch TV shows or movies with friends.
To use Netflix Party, download the extension for your Google Chrome browser. Then, simply open Netflix, select the movie or TV show that you’d like to watch and press play. Pause your selection and click the red ‘NP’ icon. Netflix Party will produce a unique link that you can share with friends. The extension also features a chat box so that you can discuss the show together.
Price: Varies depending on the game or party pack purchased
Available on: iOS, Android, macOS, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and more.
What is Jackbox Games: Jackbox Games offers a series of irreverent party video games that can be played virtually.
If you’re looking to host a virtual game night, you probably won’t find a better game selection than Jackbox. Games can be purchased either on their own or as part of a party pack that is released annually. Games can have 1-8 players at a time but can be broadcast on platforms like Twitch to up to 10,000 (!) people at once. To help you set up a proper virtual game night, Jackbox put together an excellent guide on how to play with friends and family remotely. The guide includes steps on how to get your party started via video conference on Zoom, Hangouts, or Discord.
Price: Free for unlimited 1-on-1 calls and multi-person calls up to 40 minutes. Otherwise, $14.99 and up
Available on: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows
What is Zoom: Zoom is a popular video conferencing service. The service allows calls of up to 100 people at a time.
Once only well-known by businesses, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads, Zoom has exploded in popularity since the coronavirus situation began. Zoom’s free license and ease of use have made it a household name in the world of quarantine video chats, virtual classes, and remote happy hours. To join a Zoom meeting, simply download the app and access your meeting via a custom link or code.
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.