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North Hills Monthly

hAPPy at Home: The Best Apps for Surviving a Corona Quarantine

Apr 27, 2020 08:33PM ● By Jennifer Monahan

With people spending more time at home than usual, apps can play a vital role in keeping individuals connected and entertained. If seeing Netflix’s third “Are you still watching?” message of the day is starting to spark discomfort, shut down the TV and try a new app or two to help survive the stay-at-home blues.

Phone calls are a great way to stay connected with friends, but video calls are even better. WhatsApp is a video and texting app that allows for real-time video calls. The quality is excellent, and calls rarely drop so long as both participants are using Wi-Fi to connect. Users can call internationally with ease, and the app is simple to use regardless of someone’s tech-savvy—or lack thereof. (Free; available for iOS and Android) 

Marco Polo is an excellent tool for staying in touch with family and friends. For anyone feeling skittish about the lack of privacy on social media, Marco Polo is an ideal solution. Designed to be used within private groups such as extended family, old college buddies or Thursday night book club, Marco Polo’s messaging is only visible to those who are part of the conversation. Conversations can be set up for groups or one-on-one interaction. Users record video messages for each other. Instead of having to schedule time to talk across time zones, the recipient(s) may watch and respond when they have time. With fun filters and a doodle tool that will appeal to younger users and the privacy that more mature users appreciate, Marco Polo is fun, functional and convenient. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

What better way to enjoy some time indoors than to create something? Bluprint is the app for that. Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) offers crafting classes that range from knitting to quilting to cooking to drawing. Whether users want to learn a new skill or get better at something they already enjoy, Bluprint has a host of instructional videos for makers at all levels. (Free with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android)

Yoga provides a great way to stay fit indoors, requires only a small space to practice and offers emotional as well as physical benefits—the perfect trifecta for quarantine-era workouts. 5 Minute Yoga is a terrific free option, excellent for beginners. The app has clear pictures and descriptions to explain each pose, and the five-minute practice can be slipped into just about any schedule. (Free; available for iOS and Android) 

For those willing to pay a subscription fee, the two best contenders are Glo-Yoga, Meditation & Pilates (adults) and Cosmic Kids Yoga (children). Glo has classes for all levels of yoga practitioners and a host of effective instructors. Users can download classes to use offline (to avoid using data while traveling) and create a library of favorite classes, favorite teachers and top meditations. The yoga instruction is stellar, with one caveat: while the iOS version of the app works well, the Android version can be glitchy. (Free trial period, followed by a $22.99 monthly fee; available for iOS and Android). Cosmic Kid Yoga is aimed at preschoolers through elementary-age kids and engages children in yoga within the context of stories and adventures. Adult reviewers rave about the quality of instruction, noting that the videos provide 20 minutes of healthy, fun activity for children—including kids on the autism spectrum. (Free trial period, followed by a $9.99 monthly fee or $64.99 annual fee; available for iOS and Android).

Pop open a tasty beverage, download the HouseParty app and host a virtual happy hour from home. This social media app lets users join their friends, acquaintances or strangers via video to play party games together online. HouseParty rates well for the fun factor, although some Android users complain that the app is difficult to uninstall. While not recommended for those concerned with online privacy, HouseParty can be an entertaining way to engage online. (Free with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android)

For lovers of the popular strategy game Settlers of Catan, Catan Universe might be the antidote for stay-at-home boredom. Catan Universe features the original boardgame, the expansions and the card game. Users may play against the computer or engage with up to two other human, randomly selected online players using the free version of the app. (Free with in-app purchases; available for iOS and Android)

Being stuck in the house may not be an ideal scenario, but in the age of smartphones, a whole range of apps can provide some much-needed amusement and offer a multitude of ways to connect with other people. Whether perfecting the Warrior 2 pose, learning to quilt or checking in with extended family by short video messages sounds most appealing, apps can help people with all kinds of interests stay “hAPPy” at home.