Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, guides, and advice on how to easily get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff.
As the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, it can be tricky to maintain social ties and have fun with your family and friends. We all want to hang out and do things, but in the interests of everyone remaining healthy, that’s not an option for lots of people.
That said, while it’s still not wise to go to movies, concerts, or game nights with friends, there are still ways you can enjoy movies, music, and games with them. Here are some of the ways to enjoy these activities with friends online while maintaining a safe distance.
Gadgets: Games to play
The great thing about video games as is that almost all games and consoles have a social apparatus — meaning, a built-in way for you to talk to other people and hang out with them. Lots of games are multiplayer or have online co-op, meaning you can enjoy them with friends without having to do any extra work. As for what you can play, we have an article to get you started here. Just as a hint, a game like Fortnite is a great, free option, but we also recommend online card games.
That said, not everyone has a gaming console or a game-ready PC, and that’s also fine. There are also a number of great games for phones, tablets, and browsers. So even if you (or one of your friends) don’t have the hardware, you can still find ways of hanging out together in-game. Check out our full list of games here: some of your options range from Mario Kart Tour to multiplayer Pong.
Gadgets: Movies & shows to watch
Unlike games, it can be hard to watch things together from a distance. As someone with friends all over the globe, I’ve been trying to find haphazard solutions to watching things for years — shout-out to the days when my pals and I had to watch movies by finding a sync point and counting down to start at the same time, a la RiffTrax. But luckily we live in a less-primitive time, and there are options. The only downside is that most of the options are third-party and require you to familiarize yourself with new software. The exception is Amazon, which is working on a Watch Party feature for Prime Video — read more about that here if you’d like to give that a try. If you’re comfortable using Twitch to stream the shows, you can also use that sight’s new Watch Party feature (read about that here), though I only recommend that if you’re already familiar with streaming on Twitch.
But if you don’t mind a little extra effort, there are plenty of apps and programs you can use to watch movies and shows from streaming services together — you can check out our recommendations here. One of our favorite programs to use is Netflix Party, which you can read about here. We also recommend using Discord‘s handy livestreaming feature, which lets you stream browser windows to a small group of friends in a voice chat. Having voice chat built-in definitely makes it feel more like a regular movie night — read how to make it happen here. Bring your own popcorn.
Gadgets: Music to listen to
Music is both simpler and trickier. While it’s the easiest thing in the world to link your friend a song you like, but you might find that a little labor-intensive. If you have a larger group of friends and you all want to share music, I recommend something like Discord, where a bunch of people can throw music into a chat channel like a communal stew pot. If you want to learn how to set up your own Discord server specifically for friends and family, check out the details here.
That said, if that seems like too much work to get on Discord just to share music, some of the most popular music sites do offer some sharing options of their own. To that end, I recommend building a collaborative playlist on either YouTube Music or Spotify, as it’ll essentially allow you and your friends to build your own personal radio station of sorts. You can read how to do it here.
And that’s it! Hopefully these tips will help get you through this time of responsible social distancing. Good luck!