The pandemic has made us pretty reliant on our devices for just about everything from entertainment to essentials. Tik Tok was one of the most downloaded apps during the Coronavirus. Making dance videos, showing off cute dogs, or embarrassing significant others for the viewing pleasure of millions of Internet users seems to be one way we’re getting through this quarantine. Hey, whatever works. But, there are some more practical and critical needs that we need technology to meet right now. Doing things in person (or IRL, as they say) can be risky right now. While we used to think that pressing a button on a phone to get groceries delivered or start a therapy session was just for the uber-wealthy or the extremely-isolated, now everybody’s getting on board with getting what they need through a screen.
Spending so much time at home is certainly an adjustment. And while reports have shown that some of the depression and anxiety levels associated with a lockdown have begun to taper off, people are still left with the practicalities of living a “normal” life when they can’t really go anywhere. That’s where exploring apps besides Tik Tok or Snapchat can come into play. These are apps that help you stay organized, remain focused, maintain happiness, and more.
For mental health: MyLife
COVID-19 is sending many on an emotional roller coaster that can be difficult to manage. It can certainly make it hard to get through regular and required tasks. The MyLife app asks some simple questions to evaluate your current emotional and physical state, and then it recommends appropriate activities such as short meditations, guided journaling, and breathing exercises. Meditation is especially important during times of crisis, and for those who don’t “believe” in it, know that the medical community has identified actual structural changes that happen in the brains of those who meditate regularly.
For cooking: Project Foodie
You may be running out of new ideas for what to make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all the snacks in between now. Even if you were used to making a lot of meals at home before, nobody was prepared to make this many meals at home. The Project Foodie app lets professional chefs show you how to make new recipes in detailed, step-by-step videos that explain every part of the process in a way amateurs can understand, but that will result in a professional-level dish.
For fitness: Nike Training Club
The Nike Training Club makes it incredibly easy to customize your workout to fit your exact needs. You can select the type of training like cardio or yoga, intensity level, and even duration you’re looking for with sessions ranging from five to 60 minutes, so you can get in a workout, no matter your schedule. The app also provides expert advice on things like recovery, nutrition, and better sleep. It also has a full breakdown of every trainer, providing biographical and experience info on the professionals who will be leading your sessions.
For focus: Forest
This app is admittedly a bit surprising because it’s for your phone, but it’s made to keep you away from your phone. The forest app plants virtual trees that grow taller, the longer you stay away from your phone i.e. on task with your work. The app donates real money to have real trees planted around the world, as a result of your success. So it can help you help the planet, while also keeping you on task.
For community: Nextdoor
You may have known about the Nextdoor app before the pandemic, but primarily used it to post a picture of a lost cat or complain about a neighbor playing music too loud. This is a great time to turn to it for help from your community. Finances are tight so maybe you want to find a neighbor who won’t charge much to fix your toilet – he makes a few extra bucks and you can avoid the high cost of calling a company. Perhaps you can help deliver groceries to an elderly neighbor who shouldn’t go to the store but can’t pay for InstaCart every week.
For fitness: Aaptiv
Aaptiv organizes its thousands of workouts in a neat way: it has ones for specific machines like the elliptical or treadmill, as well as those specifically for indoor or outdoor exercise, and those for certain benefits like cardio or strength training. All audio-based, this app doesn’t require you to look down at your phone to know what’s coming next. And it will create multi-week plans for you, based on your goals.
For productivity: Done
Done not only helps motivate you to stay on track with goals, but it also helps you get a better understanding of your habits and track your progress. You can set goals daily, weekly, or monthly, such as “jog daily” or “only eat 3 cupcakes a week” and the app will track your progress. It will even show big-picture data, like streaks when you kept up the good work for a long time, and times when you slowed down or really thrived on a goal, all in easy-to-read charts.
For health and safety: The Apple COVID-19 app
Apple’s COVID-19 app was developed in partnership with the Center for Disease Control and provides up-to-date data on best practices, screening, testing, and guidelines in your area. It can help you determine what to do if you’re experiencing symptoms and records important information like when you were last feeling ill or who you may have come in contact with. The creators of the app assure that it does not share your information with the CDC, Apple, or anyone without your permission.
For sleep: Relax Melodies
Are you having a hard time sleeping while stressed about a virus and finances and missing your loved ones? Well, right now you need sleep more than ever because it’s important for your immunity and mental health. Fortunately, this app plays music, bedtime stories, and other soothing tracks to help you doze off. If you just want to relax but stay awake, it also offers guided meditations and breathing exercises for that.
For staying organized: Cozi
Having everyone in the house all day makes it even harder to stay organized as a family. But the Cozi app lets you keep everyone on track with chores, homeschooling, meals, and more. Each family member can be assigned a color, so when there’s a green dot next to “dentist appointment at 2pm,” you know who is going to the dentist. It can set reminders for virtual classes, prepare grocery lists, assign chores, and more.
For socializing: Quiz Up
If you love a good game of trivia, get your friends on the Quiz Up app and choose from over 1,200 topics to challenge yourselves on. You can even take it as far as starting tournaments on the app. Grab some friends and beers for a round and it’s almost like trivia night at your favorite bar or pub from real life. Almost.
For cooking at home: SideChef
SideChef does the thinking and shopping for you, which is what we all want right now, right? The site lists all sorts of recipes from entrees to snacks to desserts to breakfast. Each one shows special labels like “gluten-free” or “vegetarian.” When you see one you like, you’ll see the full cost to buy the ingredients to make it. You can add it to your cart, and you’ll be sent to your local Walmart’s page, where you can instantly order those ingredients for curbside pickup.
For homeschooling: HomeSchooler Helper
There’s been a sharp uptick in parents choosing to homeschool their kids because of the pandemic, even though it’s absolutely exhausting for them. But this app can help. It lets you track multiple students, keeping track of curriculum, lessons completed, report cards, and more. It also lets you upload photos of your kids’ completed work.
For socializing: Houseparty
The Houseparty app goes a little bit beyond a video call app. While it does let you chat with multiple users at a time, it also comes with in-app games that you can play with the group, as if you were at a party. It also lets you switch between “rooms,” talking to different groups simultaneously, much like when you’re at a real house party.
For working from home: Remote Utilities
Were all of the spreadsheets, documents, PDFs, programs, and downloads you needed for work back on that computer in the office? The computer that you can’t get to because the office is closed off and locked up? This app lets you access a remote computer from your home laptop. You can see its screen and use its programs as if you’re on that device.