How to stay in touch with friends and family during isolation

Here are a few helpful apps you can use to video call and some top tips for getting the most out of online conversations.

The Government’s current isolation rule may feel more isolating for some than others. For those living alone or those who have been told to isolate for at least 12 weeks, this can feel like a particularly lonely time. That said, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch with friends and family during isolation, so here are a few helpful apps you can use to video call and some top tips for getting the most out of online conversations.

You can have a video chat on any device which is connected to the internet (either via Wi-Fi or using data) - a phone or tablet are often the easiest options. 

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> Recommended apps for video calls
> Top tips for getting the most out of your video calls

Recommended apps for video calls

FaceTime icon

FaceTime


If you have an Apple device, FaceTime will automatically be installed on your phone and you can use it to video chat with others who also have FaceTime. Simply open the FaceTime app, select the people you wish to speak with (tap the plus sign in the top right corner to add people from your contacts list) and then press the video button.

If the person you want to contact doesn’t have the FaceTime app, their name will appear greyed out and you won’t be able to call them.

Duo icon

Duo

If your phone or tablet uses the Google operating system (such as Google or Huawei devices), you’ll likely have an app called Duo, which you can use to call others in your contacts who also have Duo. You can download the Duo app onto Apple and Android devices as well.

To video call a group of people on Duo, you’ll need to tap ‘create group’ and add people to your list.

If you want to speak to someone who doesn’t have the Duo app installed, you’ll be prompted to invite them to use the app.

There are a few more popular apps for video chat which don’t rely on both parties having the same type of phone or operating system.

Facebook messenger icon

Facebook Messenger


Facebook’s ‘Messenger’ app is good for connecting with Facebook friends - you won’t need their phone number, just to be a friend on Facebook.

Simply create a group of people you wish to chat with, then tap the video icon in the top right corner to start a chat.

WhatsApp icon

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is another popular option for group video chats. Again, create a group of people you wish to chat with, tap the phone icon in the top right corner, and then select the contacts you want to call.

Tap the video icon and you're all set!

Skype icon

Skype

One of the original video conferencing tools, Skype can be a great way to keep in touch. You can either download the app onto your phone or use the app on a laptop or PC.

As with the other apps on this list, you’ll need to add the people that you wish to speak to to your contacts, then create a video call with them.

Remember to make sure Skype has access to your microphone and camera if you’re using the desktop version!

Zoom icon

Zoom

Similar to Skype, Zoom is more of a video conferencing tool for larger groups of people, but could be a good option for bigger families or groups looking to stay in touch.

You can schedule a meeting for a time in the future or just start a meeting immediately. You’ll have the option to invite people from your contacts, or simply share a link with others who can then join you.

The free version of Zoom has a 40-minute time limit in place, which could be good for a quick chat over a lunch hour.

Houseparty

If you’re looking for an app that does a bit more than just a standard video call, Houseparty could be it. The app essentially allows you to set up a ‘room’ where you can add friends and family and play games. With quizzes, Pictionary and charades, there's plenty to keep you busy and give you something to talk about.

Tips for getting the most out of your video call

  • Make sure the volume is up high enough on your device to be able to hear everyone clearly - if you’re struggling to hear people properly, you might find it easier to grab some headphones
  • Speak slightly slower and a little louder than usual so everyone will be able to hear you
  • Hold your device at an angle that means your face is in the centre of the screen - if your device is too heavy to hold at such an angle, consider propping it up somewhere
  • Try and limit background noise - turn the TV off or down and try and sit somewhere that the sound won’t echo - avoid kitchens if possible
  • Get comfy - you’d be surprised at how quickly time goes when you’re chatting away! Set up camp somewhere where you’ll be comfortable for an extended period of time, and perhaps make a cuppa before you call someone.
  • Try and limit the number of people using the internet at one time - if you and your partner are together, consider sharing a device rather than using two

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