Virtual Hangout Apps for Social Isolation

Missing your friends in quarantine? Try these four apps to keep in touch digitally.

A student prepares to use the Houseparty app on their iPhone. As state governments have asked their residents to stay at home, people have begun to find new ways to connect virtually. (Staff Photo by Jake Capriotti)

It’s a Zoom world, and we’re all just living in it. Now that NYU has transitioned to remote learning, community members are forced to frequent the app as a pseudo-setting for classes and meetings. But if you want to take a break from using Zoom, especially when it comes to socializing, here are some virtual hangout apps that won’t make you feel like you are in your 9:30 a.m. lecture. 

Houseparty 

This app has become hugely popular during quarantine as it is a simple and entertaining way to keep in touch with family and friends. I was first introduced to the app by my family to take part in game nights. The app is connected to your social networks, so you receive notifications when your friends are “in the house,” so to speak, and available to chat. From there, you can join in any call or chat room, “house parties,” that your friends are a part of. The most compelling features are the games that can be played as a group, including “Heads Up!” and “Quick Draw!” Houseparty is ideal for any trivia aficionado like myself, but make sure to “lock” your video call if you want to prevent random entries into your houseparty. 

Discord 

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If you’re an avid gamer, I would recommend Discord. While it can be used for study sessions, music listening and book clubs, it is most commonly to socialize with fellow game players during isolation. The app allows you to create a server specifically tailored to you and your friends, or you can join another user’s server through an invite option. Users are able to converse using the voice call feature or text through the live chat option while they play games together. 

‘’This is definitely my favorite app, especially if I’m trying to play any games with my friends,’’ said CAS sophomore, Lia Washington. ‘’I think Discord is really organized, and I like how customizable everything is.’’ 

Squad 

If you have spent this quarantine hooked to your devices, Squad is the app to use if you want to stay connected with friends without forgoing screen time. Squad is a screen sharing app that allows you and your friends to watch videos together during a video call. Some of the features include access to YouTube, the ability to connect your Snapchat account and a library of movies to choose from through a service called Pluto TV. Squad also gives you access to TikTok, even if you do not have an account. Now, you and your friends can rehearse TikTok dances together. 

Netflix Party 

Netflix and chill has now gone remote. Installable as a chrome extension, Netflix Party is a great way to watch your favorite movies and television shows with family and friends, while everyone is in the safety of their own homes. If you need a buddy to cry with while watching Cameron Hamilton and Lauren Speed’s relationship in “Love is Blind,” this is a great option. Despite being unable to video chat, Netflix Party provides a live comment section for you to debate whether Carole Baskin of Tiger King is guilty or not.

‘’It was a really easy set up process,’’ said Liberal Studies sophomore, Pierre-Philippe Falcone. ‘’The chat feature and shared ‘controller’ is so smart in making the experience as in-person as possible. I would recommend it to those that want to have a Netflix experience with those you can’t be with right now.’’ 

Take advantage of these apps to stay connected with those close to you, even if it’s only virtually.

Email Madison San Miguel at [email protected] 

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