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March 23, 2020

How Apps Are Helping Us Self-Isolate

Friends can be in the living room with you, minus the pooling of bacteria.

By claudia glover

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conscientious are battening down the hatches and staying in with family and friends wherever possible. As most of us know, however, as lovely as our families are, it can be the breaks we have from their company that make us appreciate them all the more.

This is where our apps are adapting fast, stepping in to connect us in our days of monotony, offering the global population some perks during their quarantine.

Stay Social While Distancing

Streaming site Netflix has released a Google Chrome add-on called Netflix Party, allowing groups of friends to watch movies together remotely. By syncing the pause and playback so that everyone can watch in unison, and adding a chat alongside the play screen, friends can be in the living room with you, minus the pooling of bacteria.

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Amazon have also jumped on the bandwagon, offering two free months of kindle unlimited, to make sure people can carry on reading during their quarantine. This is particularly significant, as streaming ought to be kept to a reasonable limit so that the public can use the internet to work from home.

Working From Home…

For those of us capable of working from home, Microsoft has lifted restrictions on user limits on the free Teams version, beginning March 10, as well as letting users schedule video calls with co-workers. Now more people can connect to their co-workers and keep their companies (and their jobs!) afloat.

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Slack has pledged to make its videoconferencing free for anyone working directly with Covid-19 response, and Facebook announced on March 18 the company’s exclusive enterprise social network, Workplace, will be offered free of charge to government agencies and emergency services for 12 months.

For school students, who will also be joining the homeworking throng, the leading education technology site Scholastic has created a free open access digital hub, to help keep students learning while the schools are closed.

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For those sent home from colleges and universities, (or kids looking to get creative) Adobe have generously agreed to give temporary at-home access to Creative Cloud, which will be available til May 31, 2020, at no additional cost. Those who need Adobe Photoshop or InDesign can now log in remotely with their student accounts, to continue to agonise over those all important projects.

Pick up Someone’s Shopping

For those of us who are near to people who are elderly or otherwise vulnerable, the Nextdoor app has added features to make sure that they are cared for. Originally created to bring neighbours together, the app has now added the “help map” feature. This is an interactive map of the area, where it is possible to be listed as someone who needs help with their shopping, or someone who is willing to pitch in with that help.

Pick up the Phone

If you are one of those unlucky people who is in quarantine with COVID-19, artists and app creators Baskin and Hawkins have created Quarantine Chat, which will connect anyone who has joined the app, to one other solitary quarantine buddy, for a phone conversation. The app works by randomly connecting people signed up, together, giving those who crave it, escape from their self-isolation.

The app is hosted on the programme that they originally created, called Dialup. This app has the same premise, except that it connects lonely people wanting to chat, in the middle of the night.

And so, while some apps have stepped into the breach to keep our friends and teachers close by, others have made sure our bosses are a click away, and a friendly voice is on the other end of the line should we need it. All these apps are giving us comfort in out time of need.

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