As human beings, we innately crave a connection to others. As a result of the general population quarantining themselves at home, all of a sudden, we have been made to realize the physical and proximal connection of which we took for granted. However, we are also being made to realize that we don’t necessarily have to be in each other’s physical presence to stay connected.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the online world, there are plenty of ways that we can stay connected to family, friends and colleagues while practicing self-isolation and social distancing at home. The below applications allow for group calls, group video calls, or group gatherings of some sort. Some of them are more appropriate for work meetings, while others are simply just a way to have some light-hearted fun with others. Essentially, all of them bring us just a little bit closer together, from a safe distance.
With most of the population already spending most of their time on Facebook, connecting to others through Facebook Messenger seems like an obvious choice.
Although messenger is more widely used for one of one conversations, it is also a great way to have group calls and video calls with Facebook friends. The quality may not always be the best, however it is an ideal tool for group activity with family and friends. The app also allows up to 50 people to join a call, although it will only allow for up to six people to show at a time visually.
Another upside to using Facebook Messenger is the fact that the app also includes various fun filters that people can play around with and it can also be accessed through both desktop or mobile applications.
Zoom is more widely popular for work conferences. This app is ideal for group work calls or video conferences, however it can also be used for connecting to family and friends.
The app includes a number of neat features, such as the fact that one may choose what is seen on screen if a video call is in session – meaning that there is the option of viewing multiple screens at the same time, or viewing just one screen which automatically switches to the person talking.
A particularly standout feature that is great for work calls, is the option of screen sharing. Thanks to screen sharing, group presentations can easily be done through the app.
Currently, Zooms allows up to 100 participants in one call and can be used through both desktop and mobile applications.
This is another great tool that is ideal for group work calls or video conferences, although it is also a great option for simple family and friend group calls and video calls.
Google hangouts is simple to use and is available to anyone who has a gmail account or otherwise (a person can get invited to a call even if they do not have a gmail account).
Generally speaking, the quality of Google Hangouts is usually quite good, and the app boasts a number of great features as well such as the fact that it can integrate with other Google applications and it also allows screen sharing.
Google hangouts cam be used both on desktops, as well as mobiles and the app can host up to 150 participants in one call. Video calls can include up to 10 or 25 people depending on whether someone is using it through gmail or for business or academic purposes.
Houseparty is definitely more of a fun application that can be used with friends, as opposed to being used for work purposes.
The application is a great way to have group video calls with friends, as well as even the possibility meeting new people. One one joins the app, they can either have one on one video calls with other friends on the app, or join a ‘houseparty’ group video call that is happening. A single person can be involved in more than one Houseparty group video call and jump in and out between them. In this way, people can easily find themselves joining calls that include both friends and strangers who ultimately end up becoming new friends.
Another wonderful feature available on the app is the fact that people can participate in group games with each other whilst on the group call.
This application can host up to eight people in one group call (although there can be multiple group calls happening at he same time) and can be used through both one’s desktop or mobile.
Psych is a little bit of a different option to group gatherings than the applications mentioned above. Originally created by Ellen Degeneres, inspired by one of the games the famous host plays on her show, this application is an online group game.
One can gather a group pf friends or family members to take part in this fun online game in which people compete to outwit or outsmart each other.
The game consists of a number of categories to choose from, such as ‘word up’, ‘animals’, ‘name that show’ or ‘movie bluffs’, and then everyone is presented with the same trivia question that falls under the category chosen. Each member makes up an answer to the question, and then all of the players’ answer – plus the real answer to the question – in presented as options to choose from. If one chooses the correct answer, they get a point, but if they choose an answer of one of the other players, then the person whose answer was chosen gets a point.
The minimum amount of players can consist of just two people, however it is best played with a large number of people.