The Coronavirus pandemic has ripped the rug of normality out from under society’s feet, forcing us to spend most of our days indoors. As a result, technology’s role in keeping us healthy, connected and sane is more important than ever before and one way you can reap the benefits is through the apps that populate your smartphone’s home screen.
There’s a whole host of tools out there perfect for turning your lockdown experience from Groundhog Day into a chance to get in shape, reconnect with friends and family and focus on your wellbeing.
From cooking up a storm in the kitchen to reigniting your social life, here’s Ape’s pick of the best apps for making the most of life in lockdown. All you need to do is click “install”.
Because staying healthy is one of the best ways of combating the virus.
Price: Free but with a premium option
Even if you’ve never used Strava, chances are you’ve unwittingly stumbled across it on the Instagram stories of you’re more athletically-inclined friends. The app’s developers describe it as a “social network for athletes”, and since 2009, it’s been helping runners, walkers, cyclists, hikers, skiers and everyone in between analyse their workouts in minute detail.
Once you’ve signed up and entered your stats, all you need to do is select your activity type and hit start. Strava will then record your activity and provide feedback on things like distance, speed, elevation gain and calories burned. Just make sure you always remember to turn it on before a session. Because, as users of the app love to remind each other: if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.
Price: £12.99 per month
Running a marathon or attempting your first century ride in your house might sound like a good way to get yourself sectioned but hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are at it thanks to Zwift.
This app is a multiplayer online game that allows cyclists and runners to train virtually in real-world destinations. Your exercise bike or treadmill connects to Zwift via Bluetooth or ANT+ and controls your on-screen avatar. You can train solo, ride with friends in real-time or even participate in one of the daily group workout sessions or races. Zwift also keeps track of your fitness, alerts you when you hit a new milestone and can be synced with Strava to record every session.
Nike Training Club
One of the many drawbacks of lockdown is that many of us have had to part ways with our personal trainers and gym memberships for the time being. Thankfully, Nike Training Club can replicate the pain of being peer pressured into another set of burpees from the comfort of your own home.
Users can choose from a vast selection of either individual workout sessions or multi-week fitness plans that focus on strength training. Through a speaker or headphones, a coach will walk you through each exercise, offering tips to improve your form. Plus, unlike many similar services, there’s no pressure to upgrade to a paid or premium service.
Because there are only so many family quizzes you can sit through.
Up until a couple of months ago, nobody really knew much about Houseparty. The face-to-face social media service launched a year ago to little fanfare, but 12 months down the line it’s one of the most popular apps around.
The premise is simple: it’s video calling. So why not just use one of the other hundreds of video-calling apps? Well, Houseparty’s social features and emphasis on fun have given it an edge on many of its competitors. Users receive notifications when their friends are online and can jump into a chat right away where there’s even the option of playing games or participating in yet another virtual quiz.
Price: Free (requires paid Netflix sub)
As proven by the increasingly grainy picture and snail-pace loading times, more of us are using Netflix than ever before. The trouble is, not all of us have partners, family or friends at home to share a good binge with.
Netflix Party is a browser extension that addresses that issue. Users can watch shows with friends while being able to pause content for everyone and even discuss on-screen events via an in-app chat bar at the side of the screen.
Food & Drink
Because eating chicken nuggets and chips every day isn’t an option.
With time to spare, nowhere to go and the option of dining out merely a distant memory, now is nothing if not a good time for culinary exploration in the kitchen.
With a database of over 3000 recipes with step-by-step instructions, Tasty is designed to guide you along the way. Users can filter by ingredients, occasion, dietary needs and more. Plus, the app will even offer recommendations based on things like the time of day and day of the week.
My Cocktail Bar
If you’re going to join the masses in upping your alcohol consumption during lockdown then you might as well do it with a little flair.
My Cocktail Bar allows budding mixologists (or just bored self-isolaters) to brush up on their drink-making skills. Try something new with your fully-stocked back bar, or simply input whatever obscure fluids you have left in the drinks cupboard from Christmas and the app will come up with a tasty concoction. Then save your favourites using the app’s cloud integration ready for next weekend.
Granted, it’s not going to win any awards in the name department, but what FitMenCook lacks in a catchy title, it compensates for in usefulness.
Founded by the aptly named Kevin Curry, this recipe app is the perfect tool for avoiding piling on the quarantine pounds. It offers a huge selection of easy, practical and wallet-friendly meals designed to keep you trim and healthy. There are plenty of keto, vegan and veggie options available to try and it can even help you to shop for ingredients based on the aisle. And as we all know, the less time spent in the supermarket these days the better.
Because we all need to look after our mental health in these testing times.
For the most part, your phone is nothing more than a little rectangle of stress. It rudely awakens you each morning; it constantly provides you with the latest terrifying developments in the news; it feeds your anxiety through endless-scrolling social media. On paper, it’s not the best tool for helping you to relax… well, unless it has Headspace installed on it.
Offering an accessible angle on mindfulness and meditation, Headspace encourages bite-sized daily sessions to help relieve stress. There are guided meditations which vary in length and address different topics, or you can check out some new mindfulness techniques with the help of a range of slickly designed animations. The perfect antidote to Coronavirus chaos.
Stress levels are understandably high at the moment, which isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep. Understanding your sleeping pattern can help you to make the most of your rest and Sleep Cycle makes it very easy to do.
The app is essentially a glorified alarm clock. However, where your usual wake-up call is likely to be harsh and badly timed, this one waits until you’re in a light sleep and then gently rouses you. It’ll also provide detailed feedback on your night’s sleep, including recording any sleeptalking you might have been doing. Which, if nothing else, will give you a good laugh.