Most of us are stuck inside because of the extraordinary circumstances we currently find ourselves in. Fortunately, self-quarantine doesn’t require a total lack of communication with the outside world. A few well-chosen apps can help you get on with life while still keeping your distance from other people—and a few of them have nothing to do with video-conferencing your coworkers.
Houseparty is a social media app that puts video interactions front and center. You can use this for everything from making video calls to playing games. What makes it stand out amongst a bunch of similar apps is the ease with which you can just drop in and see who’s around.
Zoom is seeing a spike in popularity due to the work-from-home shift, but it’s not just businesses using the video-conferencing app. People are using it for fun, because it’s easy to connect, even without a Zoom account. It also has a bunch of useful features built in, such as breakout rooms.
Skype is yet another video chat app most often associated with office workers and business meetings, but it has a few neat features to tempt you away from FaceTime or Google Hangouts—specifically, support for up to 50 people on one call and easy use for those using multiple platforms.
When it comes to replacing gym time or personal trainer sessions, plenty of options are out there. One is Daily Burn, which provides a slew of expert-led video and audio-guided workouts to get you into shape. You can mix and match classes to suit your needs, and the app offers a free 60-day trial to test it out.
You don’t have to buy a treadmill or a bike to access in-app Peloton classes—either live or on-demand—and you can try them out for free for 90 days before paying. The app includes running, strength training, and yoga classes, in both video and audio form.
Fitbit has its own personalized video-training app, which uses data from your Fitbit device to tailor recommendations for future activities and exercises. The Coach app includes running, strength exercises, high-intensity interval training, and more.
Workplace chat and video apps have gotten a lot better in recent years, and Microsoft Teams is one of the newer, better options around. It’s the one to go for if you use a lot of other Microsoft apps, because it comes free with an Office 365 subscription.
Slack is the obvious choice for folks who use the app constantly for work, clubs, or other groups. Video chats, file sharing, instant messaging, slick and simple mobile apps, third-party integrations...Slack just about has it all. There’s a limited free tier, which works well for personal use.
Discord is similar in feel to Slack and aimed primarily at gamers, though you don’t have to be a gamer for it to be useful. The app combines text chat, voice chat, video chat, and more, and it works seamlessly across multiple platforms. For many folks, Discord is almost as good as meeting up face-to-face.
With restaurants closing dine-in service and moving to a takeout-only model, interest in delivery apps is booming, You’ll probably want to have more than one queued up on your phone, just in case. Seamless is one of the fastest and slickest around, and continues to expand.
You don’t want to (and shouldn’t) leave your home, so maybe give Uber Eats a shot. Similarly to Seamless, you can browse menus at nearby restaurants and track your order as it’s being prepared in real time, with the usual tech-centric approach that Uber is known for.
DoorDash is another food delivery option, with thousands of restaurants across thousands of cities. The app offers the option of contact-free delivery, which you should probably take right now. Your best bet is to see which app(s) are best for your area, with the participating restaurants you like and the best policies for treating delivery folks fairly.
Concerts are off the agenda for the time being, but gig notification and discovery app Bandsintown is switching to notifying users about livestreams being hosted by musicians, whether that’s on Twitch, Twitter, or wherever. It’s almost as good as actually being there.
Heading out to the movies isn’t an option for the foreseeable future, but the silver lining is that some films are getting a much earlier digital release. Frozen 2 and Onward have both had their online launches moved up, which might tempt you to sign up for a Disney Plus subscription (if you haven’t already).
If you’re already buddying up with friends over the internet, then Clash Royale is one of the best and most instantly satisfying multiplayer mobile games around. Luckily, gaming is one of the areas where we’re used to playing separately together.
Minecraft offers an excellent multiplayer experience. If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the Minecraft waters, now might be the perfect time. Do some virtual building of worlds as you’re less able to move around the real world.
Physical board games are going to be off the table for awhile—at least with loved ones who don’t live with you—so get those digital replacements loaded up on your phone. Scrabble is one of the classics, of course, and this is a fairly decent adaptation for mobile that lets you play solo or start up a multiplayer match.
If your favorite sporting event has been canceled by coronavirus, see if there’s a virtual replacement streaming on Twitch. The good news: There probably will be. From Formula 1 racing to soccer matches, even the professional sportspeople are showing up to compete—and you can watch for free.
Should all else fail, head to YouTube. From yoga classes to Spanish lessons, from virtual hikes to choir practice, just about every real world event or meetup has some equivalent or replacement here. It’s not quite like the real thing, but it’ll get you through for now.