Social distancing is essential to lowering COVID-19’s an infection curve and protecting us protected, however that doesn’t imply it’s straightforward. Certain, we’ve got issues like social media, video chats, and a bevy of leisure choices out there to us at any time, but it surely’s tougher for individuals who lack the technological expertise to determine all these items out.
This is especially true for the elderly, who already endure from elevated loneliness and might are likely to battle with the fast-paced modifications in expertise that the majority of us are utilizing to remain in touch with each other. Fortunately, with the precise apps and a correctly set up gadget, we will help folks of all expertise ranges keep in touch with family and friends.
This information focuses on widespread apps that embrace textual content, voice, and video chat options, and have easy-to-use interfaces that don’t require you to enroll in additional accounts. So whereas Skype, Zoom, Discord, Telegram, and other similar apps could be apparent picks if utilizing a PC or smartphone is second nature to you, they’ll in all probability be too tough to take care of for people who find themselves a bit tech-adverse.
Before we get to the app recommendations, let’s discuss making a smartphone (or any gadget) simpler to make use of usually.
Most units you personal embrace quite a few accessibility choices and customization settings that may make them a lot simpler to make use of. These accessibility options can do every thing from making buttons and textual content larger; including useful shortcuts; simplifying app interfaces; and even hiding extraneous options, notifications, and apps. These settings will usually be mirrored within the apps you put in as effectively, although some could have app-specific accessibility settings you’ll have to configure. Both approach, these choices shouldn’t be ignored, as they may make utilizing—and explaining—a brand new gadget or software a lot simpler.
We’ve got guides on the quite a few options available on Android and iOS/iPadOS that can assist you get began. Gadget Hacks additionally has a wonderful information for setting up a smartphone for elderly or technophobic customers. Their information focuses on Android telephones, however the normal suggestions are (largely) related to Android tablets, in addition to iPhones and iPads.
With that out of the way in which, let’s get to the app recommendations.
FaceTime (iOS, iPadOS, macOS)
FaceTime is the usual video chat app included in your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, so it’s going to be the best choice for individuals who have already got an Apple gadget and can solely be contacting different Apple customers.
You received’t have to put in any additional apps, and any iOS accessibility choices you’ve enabled will probably be utilized to FaceTime as effectively. The interface is usually straightforward to make use of and study, particularly if the individual is already snug with different Apple apps like iMessage.
Nevertheless, if you happen to want an choice for contacting folks on different platforms like Android or Home windows, you’ll need to use one of many cross-platform options under.
Fb Messenger Lite (Android, iOS/iPadOS)
Fb Messenger Lite is a smaller and sleeker model of Fb Messenger that cuts out a number of additional options to concentrate on textual content messages and video/voice calls. You’ll be able to nonetheless ship photos and movies in Messenger Lite, however options like darkish mode and threaded message replies aren’t out there. It additionally lacks a few of the additional animations (like profile photographs sliding to the underside of chat to indicate a person has seen a message) so conversations are a lot easier to load and skim. Fb Messenger Lite even ditches the floating chat bubble notifications discovered on the Messenger cellular apps that will annoy or confuse some customers.
Messenger Lite is cross-platform, and its interface is essentially an identical no matter which gadget you apply it to, which ought to assist maintain the expertise constant for individuals who personal totally different units. There’s no PC model of the app, however the principle Messenger web client is on the market if wanted.
Identical to the core Messenger cellular app, you should utilize Messenger Lite with out a Fb account, and it’s straightforward to name or textual content contacts out of your gadget. The app is free, as are all of its options—simply be certain that video calls occur over wifi to cut back information utilization and keep away from potential overage costs.
WhatsApp (Android, iOS/iPadOS, Windows, Mac)
WhatsApp is one other free, Fb-owned choice, but it surely differs from Fb messenger in some key methods.
Most notably, WhatsApp’s out-of-the-box privateness settings are higher than Fb Messenger’s. All WhatsApp messages and name information are protected with end-to-end encryption—which mainly means they’ll solely be learn or accessed by the customers within the dialog. In case you’re in any respect involved about information privateness, WhatsApp might be the best choice. Certain, there are different messaging apps with even stricter privateness controls, however they’re not as intuitive nor as widespread as WhatsApp.
WhatsApp’s interface can be easy to make use of, and a few could discover it even simpler than Fb Messenger Lite’s already stripped-down interface. Like Messenger, WhatsApp can be utilized to contact fellow Whatsapp customers, in addition to contacts saved to the gadget, and every thing you do on the service is completley free—messages, voice calls, and video chats.
WhatsApp has devoted Home windows and Mac apps along with its Android and iOS variations, plus a web client, all of which may be synced to the identical profile.
This final choose is a bit totally different from the earlier three, however nonetheless price noting. Oscar Senior isn’t only a video chat or messaging app; it’s a whole digital care package deal.
Oscar Senior is mainly a mini, secondary working system that features quite a few options to maintain aged customers in touch with household, pals, and caregivers. It’s designed to be simply accessible for these with minimal tech expertise. Oscar Senior can be utilized to name, textual content, and voice chat, in addition to monitor necessary care information. The interface makes use of massive, easy-to-find buttons and widgets with massive textual content, and beginning up a video name takes only a couple button presses.
The service has a number of fee tier choices, and requires fairly a little bit of setup to get began, however the firm is at present providing a free two-month trial on account of COVID-19. It’s out there on iOS, Android, Mac, and Home windows.
A wise speaker isn’t an app, but it surely’s a easy method to keep in contact
One other stable choice is to ditch apps and telephones solely. Arrange your tech-troubled family members with a wise speaker, and so they’ll have the ability to dial you up with a easy spoken request. (You’ll be able to even write down the set off phrases and catchphrases for them, to assist them get acclimated with their units).
You’ll in all probability need whomever it’s you’re attempting to succeed in to have a wise speaker that makes use of the identical platform as you; if you happen to’re an iOS person, that’s a HomePod. In case you’re already invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, your good friend or beloved one ought to choose up an Echo gadget. In case you’re on Android, or have Google good house units of your individual, they’ll in all probability desire a Google Dwelling speaker of some type.
These audio system all be used to put common telephone calls, as long as their proprietor additionally has a tool with the precise necessities—sometimes both working the corporate’s working system or utilizing the precise app on their suitable smartphone. You’ll in all probability want to do that setup your self on your good friend or relative, as it may be a bit difficult for individuals who don’t know quite a bit about expertise, however the payoff is price it. Good audio system are an incredible and easy answer for staying in contact.