As more and more counties and states impose shelter-in-place restrictions while the new coronavirus spreads, everyone’s suddenly spending much more time at home. While you might be glad to have escaped the grind of the daily commute for a while, staying indoors for the majority of the day comes with its own set of challenges. Your smartphone can help.
With the right choice of apps, you can forget you’re in such a confined space, get some exercise, and let your mind roam free. From socializing to exercise to checking up on the news, these are the apps you need. If you want more of a gaming distraction, check out these mobile offerings and console titles that will help get you through. And don’t forget to stock up on the right gear and supplies.
Staying well while you’re cooped up in one place is a mental challenge as well as a physical one, but Calm can help keep you sane. It’s packed with curated music and spoken word tracks to help you take life a little more easily, as well as guided meditations of various durations so you can pick them out based on how much time you can spare.
If any app can keep you steady while you’re working and living at home, it’s Headspace. The app is packed full with guided meditations, music clips, and spoken word narrations of varying lengths, all finely tuned to help you relax, get to sleep, or simply go somewhere else in your head. It’s really good at tracking your meditation progress, too.
Being stuck indoors is the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading. If you’ve got a valid local library card then you can borrow thousands of ebooks and audiobooks from Libby, digitally, free of charge. The selection can sometimes be limited, especially now that everyone’s borrowing digitally, but the app has everything you need in terms of viewing and playing content, managing your loans, syncing files for offline use, and more besides.
Maybe you don’t need as much interaction with other people during the day, but you do need something to break the silence. Enter Noisli, which can produce an endless stream of simulated sounds—everything from a coffee shop to a forest in a thunderstorm to plain white noise. Mix and match the available audio to suit your mood while you’re working.
The Brain.fm app offers something a little different from the norm, generating a limitless playlist of algorithmically tuned sounds to boost productivity, to help you relax, or to get you to sleep more easily. You can pick from a variety of sounds and themes—natural, classical, cinematic and more—then set the time duration and hit the play button.
Diving into your favorite streaming app of choice is of course a good way to get your mind out of the confines of the same four walls, but how do you know what’s good? Enter JustWatch, which can tell you which streaming service you can find your favorite movie on, and lets you jump straight to the newest and most popular stuff too.
When it comes to video calling apps, you’ve got plenty to pick from, but Google Duo checks most boxes: It works on Android, iOS, and the web, and is free to use for video chats of up to eight people. You get a few cool filters and effects to play around with, and you can send recorded video messages to friends and family if a live video call isn’t possible.
Houseparty is also based around video chat, but in a less formal, more fun way—almost like a real houseparty. You can quickly see who’s around and who isn’t, and if you’re online then you can jump straight into calls and group chats with no waiting. Add in an engaging mix of games and diversions, and it’s easy to understand the app’s growing popularity.
You can use the Peloton app without a treadmill or bike—there are still plenty of live classes and on-demand routines available at a tap that you can do at home and in the park with just basic equipment. What’s more, in these coronavirus-affected times, Peloton has extended the free trial period to 90 days, so you can see whether the app works for you in the long run.
Aaptiv is another polished, high-quality personal training app you can use to guide your own routines at home. It’s not cheap, but you do get a wealth of audio-led workouts, covering running, strength training, flexibility, yoga, treadmill work, and more. The app is also really good at keeping a training diary and showing your progress over time.
A little bit of interior design planning can pass the time quite well; if you’re stuck in an indoor space then you might as well think about how to improve it. Design Home is part game and part wish fulfillment, with a variety of challenges and projects to complete, and new ones added all the time. You can level up to design your very own dream home, too.
Minecraft is the perfect game to combat cabin fever for a couple of reasons. First, it lets you build a vast virtual world in whatever way you see fit, so you can do some digital journeying if real-life journeying isn’t possible; and second, it lends itself to multiplayer rather well, so you can invite some friends along to help you explore your blocky world.
It’s all too easy to sync into a social media sinkhole while you’re stuck at home, scrolling and scrolling for news of the outside world. Nuzzel helps you cut through the information noise by only pinging you with the most important breaking news, and acting as a sort of daily digest for everything your contacts are sharing on Twitter and Facebook.
OK, yes, you already know YouTube. But you might not realize just now diverting it can be, especially once you break out of your usual cycle of recommendations. Look for livestreams of lo-fi music, long-running nature sound videos, tutorials on getting fit and learning languages, classic sports games of the past, stand up comedy sets. The entertainment value is limitless, and you’ve got all the time in the world.
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