You know how it is. You’re at a party, and you see an old friend from high school. They ask what you’ve been up to, and it feels like your whole life has changed since the last time you saw them—you’ve got a new job, an apartment with your first roommate, and a bunch of new hobbies.
But then they ask about Facebook and Snapchat and Twitter, and suddenly everything feels like it’s still the same as it was two years ago. Or worse—you don’t even know how to use those apps anymore!
We get it. Social media can feel impersonal and overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure how to use it in the first place. But there are also plenty of ways to stay connected with friends without feeling like you’re giving up on real conversation or getting sucked into another black hole of notifications. Here are some of our favorite apps for staying in touch with friends:
Best Apps For Staying In Touch
People all across the world are practicing social distancing for the safety of themselves and others. As we physically spend less time together, it’s become more important than ever to use technology to stay connected. Thankfully, there are multiple platforms available that can help us stay in touch. The following are five apps that you can use to stay connected from the comfort of your own home. Try some out and see which ones work for you!
Skype has been around for a long time, and you have probably already used it at one time or another, whether that be for work or personal use. It allows you to talk to others either one-on-one or in a group, from your phone or your computer. You can instant message or use voice or video calling, with groups of up to 50 people. Using Skype is free, but there are paid options if you require additional features.
Also well-known, WhatsApp is free to download and can be used by anyone with a smartphone, as well as online. This app is similar to text messaging, but uses the internet to send messages, which makes it easy to create chats and group chats between people regardless of if they have an iPhone or Android. You can also use WhatsApp to send audio, video and pictures.
Since social distancing has become the new normal, everyone has been using Zoom. Although it was founded in 2011, Zoom has recently found a new surge of popularity as people look for the best ways to connect online. Zoom is a great tool for business, making conference calls a breeze with it’s user-friendly platform that gives participants the opportunity to both see and speak with one another in large groups. When joining or creating a meeting, you have the choice of whether to share your video or not, and the option to mute yourself or the participants of your meeting. You also have the ability to share your screen with others in your meeting, making it a great tool for working from home while staying connected to your co-workers.
Houseparty is an increasingly popular app that allows you to connect with your friends through video and audio. You can go on Houseparty to chat with friends, or use the games feature and try out something fun. Plan a time to meet up with friends and login at the same time, or simply login whenever you’re feeling bored and ready for a game, and your friends will receive a notification that you’re “in the house”. They can then choose to join you if they’re feeling up to it. So when you get a notification that your friend is “in the house”, you can join in anytime! Play games like heads-up, trivia, and fill-in-the-blank.
If we had to draw a similarity between this app and another one, it would be Snapchat. With Marco Polo, users create videos for each other to send in a chat. Unlike Snapchat, the videos do not automatically disappear but stay saved, and there is no time limit on them. If you don’t want the commitment of sitting down for a lengthy conversation in a video chat through Skype or Zoom, this is a great tool to use, much like sending each other notes.
app that reminds you to text friends
As a result of having been born in an island in the middle of the Caribbean, gone to college in the middle-of-nowhere, Iowa, attended graduate school in Upstate New York, and moved to the middle of the U.S. Southern hemisphere, my personal relationships are less balanced than my, err, topographic history. I go longer than a year seeing my best friends from college, sometimes longer to reconnect with those friends who made me in high school. And sometimes, when life’s a little harder, the hustle and bustle of my daily work life cease and I return to my empty apartment at night, I wish I hadn’t gone four months without speaking to my close grad school friend who always knew the right thing to say. I know I am not alone; in fact, 42 percent of single U.S. adults say they worry about being alone. This is truly worrisome because studies have found that loneliness in fact kills — and could the next big public health issue. The feeling of loneliness increases the risk of death by 26 percent, so more than ever, it seems that we should make an effort to stay in touch with each other — further than a like on Instagram or a DM.
Here are five relatively unknown apps that can help you stay in touch with your friends outside of Facebook and Instagram:
An image of an iPhone with a photo of a woman and a baby.
Courtesy Marco Polo
- Marco Polo
Almost like the child of Snapchat and FaceTime, Marco Polo is a video messaging app that functions almost like a delayed FaceTime. The fun thing about it is you can message friends — kind of like you would by text — by recording a video of yourself. It is really easy to veer into monologue territory if you have a lot to say, but what is awesome is that your friend can get to it and respond whenever they have time. This curbs the anxiety of planning a FaceTime call when you are both available, and unlike Snapchat, the video message threads do not delete and are not time-restricted, so you can always go back and re-watch them if you need to.
An image of an iPhone with the HeyTell interface on the screen.
Remember how much fun walkie-talkies were when we were kids? This app is essentially that but on your phone. You can have conversations with your friends with the simple touch of a button, or leave little notes whenever you feel like it. It is kind of like a text message, but a ton more personal with your voice.
An image of an iPhone with a photo of a woman.
This app is like your personal assistant for managing your professional relationships. It pulls information from your other apps like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to create one view of every person, including all your phone calls with them, emails, meeting, social, messages, etc. Once all things are in place, it works out what’s important and reminds you to stay in touch with people. Aimed at professional relationships or not, this sure works for all your relationships, in general, since the app’s algorithm learns what is important to you and prompts you when it’s time to reach out to someone based on their social media updates and more.
An image of an iPhone with a notification from the Garden app.
Kind of like Cloze, Garden is like your personal relationship manager that sends you regular reminders to reach out to the people who matter most in your life, so you have no excuses to lose touch with friends and family. Basically, you create a list of important contacts and set up how often you would like to stay in touch with them, the app does the rest of the nudging. For important contacts, you can be reminded as often as every week, every two weeks, every month, each quarter, etc. You can also save notes for each contact about your last conversation, etc. so you can refresh your memory on the important details and remember where you last left off.
An image of a cell phone with a drawing of a coffee cup and the message “coffee? yes! 5min” written.
Imagine being able to surprise your partner, friends or family with a “post-it” note as if you were together in the same room. Well, now you can. This cute app lets you send a doodle straight to someone’s lock screen. It is a fun way to stay connected and say you are thinking of them, even if you are not able to connect for a full conversation at the time. You can use photos, doodles, text and other drawing tools to get your creative juices flowing.
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