Lockdown is here and chances are you’re spending a lot more time at home. That’s okay. Thanks to video call technology you don’t have to do it alone. Here’s how to stay in contact with your relatives, despite the distance, during the coronavirus outbreak.
Video calls are probably the best way to stay in contact during the lockdown. If you have a relative who struggles with technology, then an integrated device might be helpful. Integrated devices have software, screens, and cameras built-in for video calls. Many of these integrated devices are cheaper than tablets, laptops and even smartphones. Once these devices are set up, they are straightforward to use. There is a range of integrated devices available, but the Facebook Portal, Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub Max are probably the best.
One of the unusual things about the Facebook Portal is that its camera can pan, zoom around the room and follow the person you’re calling. It integrates video calls with Whatsapp and Messenger, which means that people with a smartphone with these apps can easily call the Portal device. You can buy a Facebook Portal for as little as £80 when its on sale.
Amazon’s Echo Show
The Amazon Echo Show devices are some of the easiest to use and are compatible with Skype. They have a feature called “drop in” that allows you to start a call without the other person having to answer it. That said, you need to set up the right permissions for this to happen. It also works with the Alexa app on smartphones which means that only one person needs an Amazon Echo Show for a “drop in” to happen. The compact 5-inch version of Amazon’s Echo Show retails for as little as £80 which makes it one of the cheapest options available.
Google’s Nest Hub Max
The larger models of Google’s Nest Hub Max are a great way to check in on your older and more vulnerable relatives. They are similar to Amazon’s “drop in” service and function as a sort of security camera. This means that if you have the right permissions you can watch your relative at any time. Some privacy-conscious individuals won’t like this and at £219 Google’s Nest Hub Max is quite expensive. That said, Google’s Next Hub Max is great if you have a vulnerable relative and want peace of mind.
Integrated devices like the Facebook Portal and Amazon’s Echo Show require a stable wi-fi connection. They can also be expensive, so a smartphone might be a more affordable option. You can use the smartphone to download video call apps that can help you stay in touch. There is a considerable range of video-call apps including Skype, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Sometimes smartphones are cheaper than integrated devices. If you are interested in giving your relative an old Android smartphone, you’ll need to smart sure that it is still receiving security updates.
Watch Films Together Digitally
If you’re trying to stay in touch with more tech-savvy relatives who like films, then this is for you. You can watch films and series with your relatives using various web extensions, including Netflix Party and Kast. Netflix Party is an extension that uses Google Chrome. You and your relative need to use Google Chrome as a browser and download Netflix Party for it to work. Once that’s set up you need to head to Netflix, queue up a show and click the NP icon on your extension bar. This will cause a window with a link on it to appear. Send the link to your relative, and voila, it’s time to watch together. The extension has a chatbox feature so you can talk to each other while you watch the show.
Kast is similar to Netflix Party. Unlike Netflix Party, Kast allows you to share whatever’s on your screen, including videos, shows and games. This means that you can use Kast to share a range of activities. Kast can be a little tricky to use at times, but it is compatible with computers, tablets and phones.
Alternatively, you can just video call using your phone and watch shows together. This can be a little tricky as you might need to sync up pausing, but it’s bound to be fun.
Stay In Touch Digitally
Don’t let lockdown let you down. You can see and talk to your relatives in real-time using a range of technology including integrated devices, apps and browser extensions. There is something for everyone, so start chatting today. You’ll feel better for it.