Time has a tendency of pulling families apart. Kids (and grandkids) grow up and move away; schedules get busy
Thankfully, the same technology that makes people more mobile than ever also allows us to stay more connected. Just because somebody no longer lives in the same home, or even in the same state, doesn’t mean you can’t still see them every day or keep up with what’s happening in their lives. All you need are the right apps to help keep your relationships close.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of the best apps for keeping in touch with the people you love. And even though the services these apps provide can be invaluable, the great news is that you can use any or all of them without spending a dime; although some have premium features, the basic version of each service is completely free.
There are numerous apps that make it easy to talk to multiple family members at once, or which include special features that basic texting or emailing don’t include.
GroupMe is a group messaging app that lets you send easily text messages to the entire family (or any group you set up). You can create as many groups as you want: one for your bridge club, one for the whole family, or one that’s limited just to your kids. And unlike many services, there is no requirement that everyone has to download the app in order for it to work; if someone doesn’t have GroupMe, they can still receive and send messages to the group via text.
Slack is known as a workplace communication tool, where coworkers can communicate and collaborate on different projects. However, it also can be used for messaging families. Slack allows you to set up different channels based around different topics (like “Christmas plans,” “sports,” or anything else you might want to talk about) or that are open to different groups of people (“kids,” “adults,” “Smiths,” etc.). It lends itself well to casual chats, and can be both fun and productive.
Once the realm of science fiction, video chat has become mainstream in recent years. Now you can speak to someone face-to-face, in real time, even if they are on the other side of the world. Best of all, you can do it for free, and talk with distant family with no long-distance fees.
If your family uses Apple devices, FaceTime is the easy way to video chat. The app is already included on all iPhones and iPads, and you can even use it on a MacBook or iMac computer. Of course, if you or the person you want to talk with does not have an Apple device, then you won’t be able to make a FaceTime call. But if you are an Apple family and you want one-on-one “face time” with someone you love, FaceTime is the obvious choice.
Unlike FaceTime, Skype can be used on any device (even including the Xbox One gaming system and Amazon’s Alexa). It also allows you to set up a group video chat with up to 25 different people at once, so you can essentially have a family reunion without anyone having to travel. Skype is free as long as everyone you are calling also downloads the Skype app; you can use it to make regular phone calls to people who don’t have the app, but that feature requires a paid subscription.
Messenger is Facebook’s messaging app, but you don’t have to be on Facebook in order to download and use the app. Although it’s better known as a platform for sending text-based messages, Messenger also has a video chat function that lets you include up to 50 people in a call (although, once your group includes more than six people, only one person’s face will be displayed at a time). You can even include filters that create funny effects on your live video, a feature that is often popular with kids.
Managing schedules, activities, and events for a busy family can be a chore, especially if you have an active lifestyle yourself. However, there are apps available that make it easier.
Cozi is a family organizer app that lets you see and share calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists, recipes, and more. It includes a family journal feature where you can record memories, similar to a digital family photo album.
Hub is another app that lets family members share calendars and lists, so you can coordinate schedules and know what is going on in your loved ones’ lives. You can post photos and text onto the family’s shared home screen, which means everyone can easily stay updated on the latest family news.
Want to know whether a family member made it home safe, or let others know where you are in case of an emergency? Life360 lets family members share their location with each other, so you have the peace of mind of knowing where they are, and can send or receive help if needed. It also serves as a group chat tool. You can set up different groups, called “circles,” which could include your immediate family, extended family, or caregivers. Location sharing can be enabled or disabled depending on how much you want to share with each group.
Here at The Tradition, we know that change is inevitable in the life of every family. But we believe that change can be a good thing. So whenever it becomes time for you or a family member to make the move to senior living, we can help you make that move an upgrade rather than simply a downsize. And from guest suites to private dining rooms, we ensure your family will always feel welcome in your new home. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, feel free to contact us.
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