WIJ member and social media journalist Rebecca Shepherd @Rubexa  rounds up the best online tools to help us stay connected

During this period of self-isolation you might technically be alone but thanks to the wide range of technology available, you’ll never be lonely. From online video platforms like Zoom to fun social media apps like HouseParty, these tools allow us to ‘meet’ digitally when meeting physically isn’t possible. We all know at WIJ how important communication is and thanks to tools like these, it’s never been easier to stay in touch with your nearest and dearest – or build on the connections you already have, like through WIJ…

Whether you’d planned to host a book club, quiz or catchup – do so in the safety of your own home…

 

  1. Zoom

What is it: A cloud-based platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars.

You need: A computer with a webcam, mobile device or landline, plus a working email address.

How to use: Using your email address, sign up to a Zoom account here, log in and select ‘Host a Meeting’. You will be given a URL, phone number and password to send and share. For a step-by-step process, visit here.

Best for: Hosting large video calls, as the free plan can host up to 100 participants.

Not so good for: Lengthy video calls. With the free plan, there is a 40-minute limit on meetings that involve three or more participants.

 

  1. Skype

What is it: Owned by Microsoft, Skype is a free video, voice and messaging app

You need: Smartphone, computer or tablet with webcam

How to use: Download Skype to your device, sign in using your email address, add your contacts and start communicating effortlessly. You can talk to people via chat, phone call or a video call. For a step-by-step process, visit here.

Best for: Sharing your screen, calling up to 50 people on a group call and high-quality voice calling.

Not so good for: High levels of security.

 

  1. Google Hangout

What is it: A free online messaging, voice and video calling platform.

You need: Computer, Android or iPhone or iPad. To host, you need a Google account, but other participants can use their normal email address.

How to use: Open or log in to Google Hangouts, click video call, join or start a meeting and then add guests or send a URL link for them to use. To use on a tablet or phone, you need to download the app. For a step-by-step process, visit here.

Best for: Accessibility, ease and security. Plus, video Hangouts can include up to 25 people, whilst 150 people can use voice Hangouts at once.

Not so good for: Sound quality.

 

  1. WhatsApp

What is it: A free cross-platform messaging service owned by Facebook. You can use it on your desktop or mobile to send texts, voice messages, make voice and video calls and share images.

You need: Smartphone and/or computer and a working phone number

How to: Download the app and allow it access to your contacts on your phone. Press the message icon and you can choose what friends to start chats or video calls with. For a step-by-step process, visit here.
Best for: The ease of having your chats, phone calls and video calls all in one place, its enhanced privacy features and you can have groups of up to 256 participants.
Not so good for: Large video calls. You can only video call four people at once.

 

  1. Houseparty

What is it: A “face to face social network” focused on video chats, quizzes and games to bring people together digitally.

You need: Smartphone, tablet or computer

How to: Once you have downloaded the app, you’ll need to enter your name, email address, mobile number and choose a unique username. Then give the app access to your phone’s contact book. Once you’re all set up, you’ll be taken to the main screen. The plus icon in the top right corner allows you to find your contacts, and group multiple people together into a ‘Houseparty’ for group video calls. Below that is a dice icon, where you can play games together like Pictionary. For a step-by-step process, visit here.
Best for: If you want to bring people together and play games, rather than just talk.
Not so good for: Bigger groups than seven.

 

  1. Facetime

What is it: Apple’s quick and easy way to video call friends, family and loved ones using their email addresses or phone numbers.

You need: Apple device – phone, iPad, iMac

How to: Download the app, log in with your Apple ID and password. Go to your Contacts app and search for the person you want to call. Click on the contact’s profile and select the option to start a FaceTime call. For a step-by-step process, visit here.
Best for: Ease and reliability when it comes to sound. Plus, if your device supports iOS 12.1 or later, you can FaceTime up to 32 people all at once.
Not so good for: Battery life.

  1. Google Duo

What is it: Essentially, it’s FaceTime for Google users as you can video and voice call.

You need: Computer or smartphone

How to use: Download the app or log in using your desktop, verify your phone number and then either sync your contacts or input the number you’d like to dial. For a step-by-step process, visit here.

Best for: Very simple video calls for smartphones, tablets and computers

Not so good for: Larger groups than eight.

@Rubexa

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