Staying connected during Covid-19

March 24, 2020

With people across the country stuck indoors as the coronavirus spreads, we turn to video calls to chat with friends, family members, colleagues, classmates and customers.  Recently people have also tuned in to weddings, bar mitzvahs and many other would be gatherings on various video chat platforms. School teachers, musicians and fitness instructors are using them, as are universities, which have gone remote since COVID-19 became a global crisis.

We've compiled a list of simple-to-use apps and services you can use to help maintain contact with the ones you love and care about no matter how close or far away they are.



Zoom is available on Android, IOS and on any laptop.  People can start video calls for free, as long as they’re kept under 40 minutes and below 100 participants. There are also features designed for fun. When you use Zoom, you can upload a picture or a video to create a virtual background. One advantage to Zoom is that it only makes video-calling products, and has focused on making sure people like them.


Have an iPhone, iPad or Mac?  You can use Apple's built-in FaceTime app to video chat with any of your contacts (as long as they also use the Apple platform). While it's primarily for video chatting, you also can use it to make audio calls if you're in a spot that has a WiFi or data connection but a poor phone signal. Group FaceTime even allows you to chat with up to 32 people at once and can be used with almost all iOS devices with iOS 12 installed.

Google Duo/Hangouts

You can use the Google Duo app on your Android phone, iOS smartphone, tablet or computer to video chat with up to eight of your friends at a time. It uses your phone number and accesses your phone's contacts list to let you start creating groups. Among its most unique features: Knock Knock, which gives users a preview of the person calling by firing up the camera on the other end of the line.

Whereas Google Duo is meant to be much more specialized, Google Hangouts is ideal to use on desktops. It supports messaging and group chats, and has voice and video chat capabilities. It's built into Google+, Gmail, YouTube and Google Voice, and the app is compatible on iOS, Android and online.


Skype messaging, as well as video and audio calling, was created for both one-on-one and group conversations, and you can use it on your mobile phone, PCs and Macs, Xboxes, and even Alexa. It's free to send messages, and to conduct audio and video calls with groups of up to 50 people (paying a nominal fee also enables you to call mobile and landline phones or send online text messages). Skype even lets you record, save and share your video calls, and offers live captions and subtitles. It's free to download (for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac) and easy to use. Just establish an account and add your friends to your contacts list.

Facebook Messenger

More than 1 billion people have Facebook accounts, so theoretically you can use the Facebook Messenger app to connect with any of them. You can send instant messages, photos or videos, stickers, GIF files, emojis and more. You also can make free WiFi video calls from almost anywhere. Using Facebook Messenger is like using any other instant-messaging app. Simply click or tap on the compose button, select the individual(s) you would like to chat with and then start typing.

Netflix Party

Had to cancel movie night?  Not to worry you still can enjoy ovie parties using Netflix Party. It's a free Chrome browser extension you download on your computer. Once you've done that, you just search Netflix and select the movie or TV show you want to watch. To invite friends to join your party, pause your show after it loads and click the red "NP" button. That will give you a unique link to send your friends so they can join your "room." Then you can watch your movie or TV show together — and even talk about it using the platform's chat tool.