Easter cheat-sheet: how to stay connected during isolation

While we find ourselves living in isolation during this strange time, we are also lucky to live in the age of technology. For years we have used technology and instant messaging as an addition to our work and social lives. But for now, digital mediums are our sole means of entertainment, communication, and most interactions.

Now that holidays like Easter and other personally significant dates begin to pass us by, it’s okay to feel a bit disappointed. Ordinarily, these events would be spent surrounded by friends and family. Nevertheless, there are many ways to maintain some kind of contact, using the magic of technology and an internet connection.

What can we do in place of traditional family gatherings?

Nothing can replace being surrounded by your nearest and dearest. But while we adhere to social distancing measures, we begin to adapt to a new form of ‘hanging out.’ Video conferencing software is one of the easiest ways to reimagine a similar sense of togetherness.

These are some popular video conferencing platforms and their features:

Google Hangouts allows for up to 25 people in one meeting—making it an ideal

choice for a family gathering. With built-in screen sharing and compatibility with many devices, Google Hangouts could be your best bet for hosting a moderately-sized online Easter celebration.

Facetime is one of the easier video conferencing apps to use, with the application already built-in to Apple devices. You can call up to 31 people, as long as they are using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Skype is your top pick for video calls with older relatives. Skype’s unique subtitle feature makes it a more practical option for video calling loved ones who are hard of hearing. You can simply enable the feature to subtitle your calls in real-time, making communication easier for Nan and Pop.

Skype also has an in-built instant messaging feature. In between longer video chats, you can receive SMS notifications, so you can communicate with your loved ones throughout the day.

Facebook Messenger is great for connecting to family members on both Apple and Android devices. There’s also a desktop app for those who don’t want to use phones or tablets. With a video conference capacity of 50 people, it’s easy to begin a call with your established family group chats. Simply press the video button in your chat and catch up to your heart’s content.

How can I connect and have fun with friends?

For many of us, socializing with friends means going out drinking, watching movies, and other activities outside of the house. Fortunately, there are many apps and online tools to help maintain your social life.

  • SMS

The humble SMS is one of the easiest and simplest ways to check in with a friend. Shooting a quick text is a great way to send a thoughtful reminder to a friend that you’re thinking of them—or arranging a video call to catch up face-to-face.

  • WhatsApp

WhatsApp sends instant OTT messages around the world using wifi or phone data. Plus, it’s completely free and compatible with iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones. WhatsApp also automatically identifies people in your contact list who use the app, so you don’t have to add them manually into the app.

Whatsapp is one of the preferred OTT messaging apps for individuals and businesses alike. In fact there are over 2 billion Whatsapp users around the world, making it one of the easiest ways to connect personally with other users.

Related: 'Why SMS will remain the winning mobile channel'

  • Gaming apps

Gaming apps like Houseparty and Bunch are proving especially popular for Gen Z and Millennials. Houseparty allows you to play games like Trivia or Heads Up via video chat, with up to eight people in a ‘room.’ Just make sure you press the lock button if you don’t want another friend popping up in your ‘room’ uninvited.

Bunch also allows up to eight people on video calls while you play games like Scrabble, Charades, and a multiplayer game akin to Flappy Bird. The app developers are also taking requests to add to their collection.

  • Netflix Hangout

Replicate the fun of a movie night with friends with Netflix and Google Chrome’s partnership project, Netflix Party. Once you have shared your party URL with friends, the Google Chrome extension synchronizes video playback, adding a group chat to your Netflix stream.

  • Virtual classes

With gyms and other work out classes closed for the time being, many are offering online workouts. Working out while on a video call with friends has become extremely popular. Online gyms like Peloton are offering a 90-day free trial to their thousands of live and on-demand classes. And for something a little more relaxing, Core Power Yoga is currently providing free online classes through their On-Demand platform. Not only will you get the blood pumping, but it’ll feel almost like your back in your favorite exercise class with friends.