If you’re like most people stuck at home during the Coronavirus-inspired quarantine, you’re probably spending much more time online than you’re used to. In fact, you’re most likely one of those people who has helped video streaming increase nearly 85% compared to this time last year.
“Over the first three weeks of March 2020, the total estimated number of minutes streamed to the TV was 400 billion, up 85% compared with the comparable three-week period in 2019,” wrote Variety. During the week of March 16th alone, consumers watched over 156 billion minutes of streaming content.
That is a ton of content!
The surge in demand for websites, mobile applications and other technologies that keep us connected, productive and entertained has been nothing short of incredible over the past month, and there are no indications that it will stop any time soon.
We are using mobile apps and online web applications now more than ever. And, you might be surprised at how many different options there are to help you get the most out of your online activity, including productivity, education, health and fitness and, of course, chatting.
Let’s take a look at your best options.
Best technologies to use during social distancing
While you’re stuck at home, there are a variety of apps that can be downloaded and used on your computer and mobile phone to boost your productivity as well as let you enjoy some entertainment.
However, be careful what you download.
The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a slew of phishing, malware and other computer-related attacks designed to steal personal information from millions of people.
In response, both Apple as well as Google Play are keeping a close eye on the applications available for download within their respective stores.
For example, Apple is cracking down on COVID-19-related applications that are not from recognized institutions like the CDC, hospitals and governments. And, Google Play has a dedicated section of their store for trustworthy COVID-related apps.
Before downloading a new application, be sure to read the reviews closely.
If you’re unsure, do a quick Google search for the app’s name to see if other people like using the app. And, resist the temptation to download and install a bunch of applications at once. If your phone or computer begins to act strangely after installing several different apps, it will be much tougher to determine which app might be causing the problem.
Interesting apps you probably don’t know about
If you’re interested in tracking the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, Microsoft Bing has a really cool map designed to visually show the virus’s outbreak. For the record, Google also has a resource for COVID, as does the UK government, but they are not nearly as visual as Bing’s.
If you are a healthcare professional working on the frontlines of the pandemic in the United States, Headspace has made its mental wellbeing app free for the rest of the year.
There are a slew of healthcare related applications available for your phone that are designed to connect you with doctors and healthcare professionals at almost any time. Apps like MDLife, Lemonaid and LiveHealth are among the most popular.
Other apps, like Express Care, PlushCare and Doctor on Demand are other options that are highly rated and valuable for a lot of people.
Search through your phone’s store for availability.
Let’s chat (and play)
Chatting with friends and family is one of the most popular ways that many of us use our mobile phones. Most of us know of the more well-known text and video chat service providers like FaceTime on Apple and Zoom or Google Hangout available on any device.
But, these aren’t the only options available to connect you with other people online.
For example, Bunch is an application that enables group video and game-play for up to 8 different people. Houseparty is another super unique application that lets users video chat online and play games like Heads Up, trivia and Quick Draw (similar to Pictionary).
When we aren’t moving as much because we’re at home and out of our normal routine, staying fit is a crucial part of remaining sane and feeling healthy. And, fitness-related apps can help you keep (or get) in shape.
Try the Nike Training Club app for over 180 free workouts. Give Runtastic a try if you’re into cardio-type workouts, Asana Rebel for more yoga and mind/body type training programs and FitBod if you are looking to get stronger through resistance-type lifting workouts.
If you’re more focused on tracking your steps, try Google Fit. Google Fit challenges you to keep moving by offering heart points and goal setting. The app will track your exercises like running, walking and bike rides. Note that this app is only available for the Android device.
Education and Productivity
Other applications designed to take your productivity to the next level include Evernote, nTask, Tick Tick, Google Keep and Any.do for note-taking and scheduling, Scanbot, Google Docs or Office 365 for writing, scanning and organizing documents and Canva, GanttPRO, Prezi and Lucidchart for creating some pretty darn slick charts, graphs and other graphics.
Or, that new language you’ve always wanted to learn? Now might be the right time to break out DuoLingo and get started.
Also, there are a whole slew of education-related resources out there. For example, Coursera and edX are among the more well-known options, but there are so many other websites and services dedicated to education too, like Schoology, ePals and Udacity.
Don’t forget about YouTube. You might be surprised at how much you can learn just by using YouTube and searching for videos that you’re interested in.
For example, interested in Meteorology? Dave Cocchiarella has a slew of textbook-type lectures available. Want to try Woodworking? See Steve Ramsey. Looking to downsize and organize your pantry? Try this super useful video about minimizing your food storage.
There are many more applications available than time to try them. I believe that having options is a good thing, and all those options means that app developers continue to improve their apps by making them faster, cleaner and more rich with features.
There is hardly anything that app developers haven’t thought of. All we need to do is hop onto our phone’s app store and look around. There is something for everybody out there. For every purpose, whether you’re looking for help staying organized or a new game to try.
Remember to stay vigilant and read the reviews. Never fork over sensitive information through an application that you just downloaded and always pay close attention to links that you click and web sites that you visit. It’s one of the best ways to stay safe while online.