With the coronavirus leading to lockdowns in many parts of the world, people are being forced to stay indoors and look for activities to keep them engaged.
As a result, screen time on mobile phones has surged. In a recent study, App Annie found that global app downloads have crossed 31 billion in Q1 2020, and spends on apps hit a new record of $23.4 billion during this period.
Besides the obvious popularity of video conferencing apps like Zoom and Hangouts, people are also scouting for increased group interactions on social networks, chat, dating apps, live gaming, and entertainment platforms. They are even looking for utility features, guides, and planners to get through quarantine.
Here’s a list of some interesting apps and tools that could help you overcome the stress, anxiety, loneliness, and boredom of these unprecedented times.
Video social networking app Houseparty needs no introduction. It has been the second biggest gainer (after Zoom) since lockdowns took over the world.
Houseparty downloads surged 3,000 percent in a month. It was installed 17.2 million times in March, according to Sensor Tower. The app was also trending in the top five of Google Play Store and Apple App Store – up from a four-digit spot two weeks ago.
A lot like Zoom but a little more informal, Houseparty lets you join a video chatroom with friends and even hang out with friends of friends. The app’s biggest draw has been the live games on offer.
There’s Pictionary, Heads Up! and even Fortnite, which is available for free on Houseparty. (Both properties are owned by Epic Games.)
Even though Houseparty recently came under the privacy scanner, the app-makers have vehemently denied claims of any such breach. The app’s skyrocketing popularity shows that even users aren’t caring much as long as they can ‘party’ in quarantine.
If you’re a compulsive traveller having a hard time adjusting to the lockdown, YouVisit VR is tailored for you. This app lets you tour the world with a VR headset.
You could be walking through the Louvre Museum in Paris, cycling through rice fields in Bali, flying over New York in a helicopter, or basking in a sunset at Cape Town’s Table Mountain — all through immersive videos in 8K resolution.
If you’re interested in meaningful journeys through sombre places, YouVisit VR will also walk you through the war-torn lands and refugee homes of Syria and Lebanon.
The app is available on mobile and desktop; all you need is a high-end device that supports 8K videos.
Netflix Party has been one of the most talked about quarantine tools.
It is a Chrome extension that lets you host Netflix watch parties remotely with friends, family, or dates. Data reveals that over eight million users have hopped onto Netflix Party within just a few weeks of launch.
The Party extension syncs your video playback with others’ and the content is streamed simultaneously across devices. There’s also a group chat feature that allows you to keep the binge-watching sessions fun and interactive.
You have to add the extension from Chrome web store, select something to watch, create a party by hitting the red ‘NP’ icon next to the address bar, click on ‘Start Party’ to launch the session, and share the party URL to invite friends.
Those joining a party have to simply click on the link shared by the host.
Social media is filled with people documenting their ‘lockdown cooking’ tales.
While some are relishing the challenge, many others are admitting to their struggles with low supplies and high demand – considering everyone’s at home now, you need to prepare at least three meals per day.
Enter Yummly, a personal meal planning and cooking guide, which helps you organise your pantry and make the best use of the stock you have.
If you’re an amateur cook entering the kitchen for the first time, Yummly offers thousands of recipes across cuisines, step-by-step cooking videos, guidance on condiments, and personalised daily meal plans.
It also adds items to your grocery cart and auto-generates a list of things you need depending on your meal preferences and cooking history.
Tinder has made its premium Passport feature free for all users until April 30. Until now, Passport could be accessed only through a Tinder Gold or Tinder Plus subscription.
The feature allows Tinder users to choose from a global dating pool instead of a local one. They can set different locations by choosing a city or simply by dropping a pin anywhere on the world map.
Elie Seidman, CEO, Tinder said:
“We hope our members, many of whom are anxious and looking for more human connection, can use Passport to transport themselves out of self-quarantine to anywhere in the world. We’re inspired by how people are using Tinder to be there for each other, and we want to fan these flames of social solidarity.”
While Tinder Passport will allow you access to any number of cities globally, you can virtually be only in one city at a time. However, you can change your location as many times as you’d like.
If the forced isolation is adding to your loneliness and taking a toll on your mental health, HearMe is the kind and patient listener you’ve been looking for.
It lies somewhere between a friend and a therapist, and lets you anonymously connect with an empathetic HearMe Listener within a minute at no cost.
HearMe is available round the clock, and you can discuss anything from relationship to work troubles. It also claims to be LGBTQIA+ friendly and you can voice your identity issues too.
The conversations happen in real time, guided by trained listeners. HearMe promises complete confidentiality and gives you access to past sessions through a personal dashboard to monitor your progress.
BookMyShow: Live From HQ
How does an event ticketing platform, whose business hinges on offline events, stay relevant in times of a nationwide lockdown?
BookMyShow has the answer in its newly launched series Live From HQ, which brings live entertainment to your living rooms for free or at a nominal cost.
These are online streamed events across comedy, theatre, spoken word, dance, music, and more, featuring India’s leading artists, bands, and performers. All shows can be watched live on Instagram on the performer’s or creator’s page.
The BookMyShow app has opened up a dedicated tab for Live From HQ events where you can stay updated on schedules and announcements. Just hit Play!
How has the coronavirus outbreak disrupted your life? And how are you dealing with it? Write to us or send us a video with subject line ‘Coronavirus Disruption’ to firstname.lastname@example.org