23 March 2020 22:32

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6 free apps you can download to help with social distancing From chatting to friends to recreating your workout routine, here are some apps you need while staying inside amid the coronavirus pandemic While we have been encouraged to stay indoors and keep contact with other people to a minimum, it is completely understandable that plenty of people out there will be feeling lonely and somewhat cut off from the world, particularly those who are living alone. Fortunately, we are living in a digital age and there are some amazing apps out there that people have been relying on during social distancing. Check out our favourite apps to help you get through the pandemic - and they're all free! Houseparty has been around for a while, but has likely had an upheaval of downloads over the last few days. The app is similar to your usual video call service - like FaceTime or Skype - except that if you are online, anyone can join you and start a chat, meaning that you never know who you might be chatting to next out of your friends.

The app also allows plenty of people in the group, and hosts a number of different games including quizzes, a drawing game and the popular app Heads Up, allowing you hours of fun with your mates. Houseparty lets you chat and play games with friends For all of your office duties, Zoom is the perfect way to schedule conference video chats any way you like - via desktop or on your phone. You can also add Zoom meetings on your calendar, and with a handy password and conference code, you're not likely to end up joining the wrong discussion! If you miss your office pals, it is also a great way to recreate a nice office environment and remind you that you are not alone! Zoom is the perfect work conference app READ: 21 TV shows to watch if you don't have a Netflix subscription This handy Netflix app might be the perfect answer to watching shows while hanging out with your friends during self-isolation.

Netflix Party is a Chrome extension which you can add to your laptop and use to perfectly synchronise your viewing party with your pals. The app was intended to be used to host long distance film nights - so would be the perfect way to keep safe during the current climate! The app also allows a message thread on the side of the screen during the show, meaning that you and your friends and swap your thoughts on whatever is on your screen. Netflix and Party, anyone? Stream your favourite shows with your friends If video chat isn't your thing (and you love a bit of gaming), try Mucho Party! The multi-play game means that you and your pals can all play games together remotely - with up to 46 gaming options, including car races, fishing and pretzel sorting. You can also set up leagues with up to eight players, meaning that you can play in tournaments against your mates! Play games with your friends - wherever they are Fortunately, TikTok is on hand to validate all of your weird and wacky home videos while stuck indoors. You can have a lot of fun with the app - and even if you don't want to create any videos of your own, we think it's nice to know that other people are at home going a little stir crazy too! READ: 17 of the best crime shows to watch on Netflix For fitness fans, it's fair that you might be missing your regular workout classes, and there are plenty of popular YouTube channels that are streaming live workouts every morning to help you get ready for your day while indoors. While much of the technology world has been shut down by the COVID-19 outbreak, Zoom, a video-conferencing app that had been popular in the corporate world for years, is now dominating the industry. With people and children at home for an indeterminate amount of time, apps like Zoom are extremely useful. They help businesses continue in their operations and have virtual meetings with team members and clients. For schools, Zoom allows teachers to continue to deliver their classes to students over the web. Whether you need an app to do business, educate children, or simply reconnect with friends and family you can't otherwise see during a period of isolation, Zoom has you covered. Here's how to use Zoom on your iPhone, Android device, or Windows or Mac laptop to stay connected while at home. Getting started with Zoom Before you get started with Zoom, you need to make sure you have a webcam. Zoom works across devices, including mobile and computers. However, if you have a desktop (or want better video quality on your laptop), you'll need to buy yourself a webcam. Popular options include the Logitech C310 and Microsoft Lifecam HD-3000. How to sign up for Zoom and choose a plan Once you have your webcam ready to go, it's time to sign up for Zoom by visiting the Zoom website. If you're an individual or you have little need for frequent video conferences, the free Zoom Basic package gives you the ability to chat with up to 100 participants and hold unlimited one-on-one meetings. Be aware, however, that you're limited to 40 minutes in group meetings. Zoom also offers several plans for businesses that need more functionality. Those plans start at $15 per month for Zoom Pro, which includes the ability to have a 24-hour presentation and user management, among other features, and bumps to the $20-per-month Zoom Business plan for the ability to hold meetings with 300 participants at once. A version for large enterprises is also available, but customers need to contact Zoom sales to sign up. Getting Zoom software After you enter your e-mail account and password upon signing up for Zoom, you'll be taken through the process of actually getting the client software. Again, the software you use will be dependent upon the device you're trying to download Zoom on. Either way, when you're brought to your account page, you can click on the Resources tab at the top of your page to find the Zoom client you need. Pick your software (Windows or Mac) and download the Zoom client. If you're on mobile, you can go with the Zoom app available in Apple's App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android devices. How to host a meeting on Zoom Once your Zoom app is downloaded to your device of choice, you'll need to sign in to your account. At that time, you'll have the option to schedule a meeting. Simply click the "Schedule a New Meeting" button and decide when the meeting should be held, who will be attending, and more. Once that's set, Zoom will give you login information for participants and the ability for users to log in via the app or on their phones. Interestingly, Zoom also comes with a quick sign-in feature for mobile users. So, if someone participating in your call doesn't have Zoom, they can quickly call the Zoom number and Zoom will automatically get them in by inputting their meeting ID and other information without any delay. How to join a meeting on Zoom If you get an invite from a Zoom user and you don't happen to be one, you can easily join via phone in the manner outlined above. You can also download a thin client for Zoom in your browser that allows you to join meetings via video. Since you already have the Zoom app downloaded to your device, you can also use that app to input the Meeting ID supplied by the host to quickly join. Zoom also creates unique URLs for each of its meetings to easily get to where you need to go. Extra Zoom features you should try One of the great things about Zoom is just how many different features it comes with aside from letting you communicate with your team. For one, you and others on the call can easily share your screen during use, so you can illustrate a point, discuss how to use certain features, and more. Screen recording is also baked in, so you can record what you're showing and send it off to other people over time. Zoom also includes the ability to have chats with people while you're on a call and even share files, so you can quickly collaborate on documents you're working on. If it's collaboration you're after, Zoom features the ability to break people out into their own rooms, so they can work on something and come back to the main room at some point in the future. Users in groups can also all annotate on screens and whiteboard on the fly. If you're wondering how secure Zoom is, the app features 256-bit AES encryption, as well as SSL encryption.