How to entertain yourself when social distancing: A stay-at-home guide to mobile apps
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces mobile users to stay home on a global scale, app usage has significantly changed. A recent study by Sensor Tower reveals a surge in online grocery shopping and a steep decline in new users for ridesharing and taxi apps. Entertainment and productivity apps are understandably being used more, with streaming apps such as Netflix, Disney+ and Twitch growing by 28% month-over-month in March. With an abundance of apps to choose from, it can be difficult to identify which ones will be most beneficial to you while staying at home. Organized by app vertical, this post shares the best apps to entertain yourself while staying at home and how they are adapting their service to help users throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
A great way to stay productive while at home is to learn a new skill. Fortunately there are several apps that can help you achieve your goals, as well as others that can help with homeschooling.
Duolingo enables users to learn languages through gamification. The app includes 35 language courses and even offers Klingon for Star Trek fanatics and High Valyrian for Game of Thrones fans. According to Michaela Kron, senior public relations manager at Duolingo, the app’s traffic has seen all-time highs during the COVID-19 pandemic. New sign-ups grew nearly 108% from March 9 to March 30, with a 148% increase in the US. Duolingo is free to download and use and also offers a premium version for $9.99, which you can trial for days free of charge.
Busuu is a language app designed to help you learn a language with 10 minutes of practice per day. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Busuu has launched a new initiative, Keep Kids Learning, to support children and their families while homeschooling. The initiative provides free language classes taught by qualified teachers for different age groups. The Busuu team has also compiled this list of language learning tips for kids staying at home.
Babbel is also helping students throughout the coronavirus crisis. The Berlin-based paid language learning app has made its service free to access for all K-12 and college students. Babbel CEO U.S. Julie Hansen explained the company’s initiative to TechCrunch, saying “As students are being forced to stay at home, Babbel is in a position to help right now and that is exactly what we want to do. At this time of global concern, we are reminded of the similarities we have with other people around the world, rather than that which divides us.” This includes courses for Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Indonesian and English – making it one of the best language learning apps available.
Blinkist is an education app designed to let you read the key lessons from nonfiction books in 15 minutes or less. The app’s premium service is $12.99 per month or $79.99 for a year. However, to help users during the COVID-19 pandemic Blinkist are offering 30 days of their premium service for free to existing users until April 28th. If you are not an existing user, you can still gain access to this offer by signing up with the 7-day trial.
With no access to local gyms and outdoor sporting activities, people are looking to mobile apps for a greater portion of their exercise routines. In March, fitness and health apps saw 46 percent more downloads than February and 25 percent more than January (a month that typically sees a rise in fitness app usage). Here are two of the best fitness apps that will help you stay fit and healthy while staying at home.
Strava is a fitness app where you can track your performance and complete challenges. The app is community-driven with social elements for friendly competition. The company recently gave users advice on how to optimize their Strava experience while exercising at home, including how to upload a heart rate only workout and how to crosstrain using Strava’s partner apps. Runnersworld also created a comprehensive guide to Strava earlier this year.
Runtastic is the fitness app from Adidas with more than 180+ videos designed to help you achieve your fitness goals. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Runtastic is currently offering a free three-month premium trial. This includes all features available in adidas Training and adidas Running.
When looking for the best apps to entertain yourself while staying at home, music apps can be a great way to share your creativity. This vertical has seen less growth than other types of entertainment apps, downloads were up by 13 percent compared to February, however, there are still ways in which music apps are helping their users through the coronavirus crisis.
With over 200 million tracks uploaded by its active community, Soundcloud is the world’s largest open audio platform. With more of us staying at home, the platform has seen a 50% growth in creators uploads in the past month. They are also supporting creators during the coronavirus crisis with a $15 million cash boost to help artists using the platform. When announcing this additional support for artists, Soundcloud CEO Kerry Trainor said “As the coronavirus crisis has unfolded, we’ve seen a global outpouring of tracks on SoundCloud [...] But behind this creative response, we know there continues to be financial loss and uncertainty for our creator community.” This cash boost includes a $5 million fund offering free promotional support for all artists with an aim to increase the number of plays generated via the platform’s ‘promote’ tool. Soundcloud have also compiled a comprehensive list of resources artists may find useful during the coronavirus crisis.
Soundcloud’s free version enables you to upload 3 hours of audio, basic statistics and lossless HD storage. For $16 per month (or $12 per month with an annual subscription) users have limitless uploads, full statistics, scheduled releases and several other benefits. To see how they compare, visit Soundcloud.com.
Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, apps such as meditation platforms have grown more popular than ever. In 2019, 52 million users downloaded the top 10 meditation apps and the total searches for yoga and meditation has increased 65% year-over-year. With the psychological strain of staying indoors for long periods of time lifestyle apps offer ways in which you can find several benefits.
Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app designed for everyday use. The company is showing their support for U.S. healthcare workers by offering them free access to Headspace Plus until 2021. Megan Jones Bell, Headspace’s chief science officer, says “Healthcare providers are on the front lines of this public health crisis, making sure our communities receive necessary and critical care [...] it's crucial for us to find ways to support their mental health and provide them with tools for managing the very real personal toll this crisis takes on them in particular.” This offer gives essential healthcare workers in the U.S. access to hundreds of guided meditations that can help with general health, sleep, and peace of mind. If you qualify you can register via the company’s site using your National Provider Identifier (NPI) and email address. If you are not a healthcare worker and would like to trial the app, you can still get Headspace’s premium version for free for two weeks, after which it will cost $12.99 a month or $69.99 per year.
Another useful app for meditation and sleep is Calm. This app has over 50 million downloads and over also aims to make work life less stressful with Calm Business. As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the company has handpicked some of their favorite content. This includes meditations, sleep stories, movement exercises, journals, and music – all free of charge.
From ordering your groceries online to supporting local businesses via delivery apps, food apps remain an important part of daily lives during the coronavirus crisis. Here’s how food apps are adapting to the current situation around the world.
Takeaway.com / Lieferando
Europe’s biggest online food ordering and delivery company, Just Eat Takeaway (JET), announced last month that its Takeaway.com subsidiary will implement a ‘no-touch’ delivery. This means that delivery workers will keep a safe distance as your food will be left at your door. You can learn more about contactless delivery and how this process works on Takeaway’s official website. This also applies to Lieferando, operated by JET, for those residing in Germany.
Foodboss is an aggregator tool that compares food delivery options in your area. FoodBoss compares offerings from apps such as Postmates, Uber Eats and Delivery.com in over 50 cities. Recent FoodBoss data reveals that, as expected, there is a rising demand for contactless delivery. Michael DiBenedetto, CEO and founder of FoodBoss, also gave insight into the price of food delivery since the coronavirus crisis began: "There was some surge pricing last week, but that has dramatically shifted to fees that are more reasonable across the board. From March 12 to March 18, we saw food delivery fees were 16.3% higher compared to the first week of February."
Just because you can’t date in person doesn’t mean you need to stop dating entirely. Many of the best dating apps have responded to the coronavirus crisis in their own unique way. Here are a few key examples of how people are dating without contact.
Tinder is a globally successful dating app with 30 million matches made each day. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tinder has issued an in-app card that encourages users to stay at home and avoid social meet-ups. The app also has plans to make Tinder Passport available for free to all users.
Tinder Passport allows you to select a location of your choice, rather than being tied to your current geolocation.
Bumble is a dating app that also offers opportunities to make platonic friendships (Bumble BFF) and network with business professionals (Bumble Bizz). It has a unique selling point of only allowing women to start a chat, with the exception of same-sex matches, where either user can make the first movie. The dating app has released a guide to dating during the coronavirus crisis with advice from an epidemiologist.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel is a San Francisco-based dating service with over 7 million users and 166,900 monthly downloads. They recently shared their own out-of-the-box dating tips for those who are self-isolating.
There are countless free mobile games to enjoy, making it difficult to decide which apps deserve your time. Sites such as Tech Jockey, Pocket Gamer and Android Authority have compiled a great list of free gaming apps to download. Below we will highlight a selection of the most popular free games currently available.
This is a free game from Voodoo where users must draw their own cart and defeat other players with a series of weapons. Draw Joust! is currently ranked sixth in the mobile gaming charts.
Mario Kart Tour
Nintendo has brought one of its most popular characters to Google Play games. This is a multiplayer game where users can compete in customized teams. Mario Kart Tour is available for iOS and Android devices.
Go Knots 3D
Go Knots 3D is one of the many hyper-casual games available to download. This is a free app from Rollic Games that is currently top of the download charts. The aim is to sort a series of colored chains without tying them in knots.
Fans of the Hitman franchise will be pleased to know that Hitman GO is free to install for a limited time. This is a turn-based puzzle game where you must strategically avoid enemies and take out your target.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Injustice: Gods Among Us is an arcade-style fighting game where users can play as their favourite characters from DC Comics. There are several gaming modes and side quests to choose from.