5 Apps for Communication

2020 has thrown many curveballs at us that we never expected. Two of these have been lockdowns and working from home resulting in many people connecting personally and professionally using online tools.

2020 has thrown many curveballs at us that we never expected.  Two of these have been lockdowns and working from home resulting in many people connecting personally and professionally using online tools.  These can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, especially if you live on your own.

Let’s have a look at some of the options:

  1. Zoom.

Zoom is one of the major video conferencing solutions used worldwide.  It has a good range of functionality for hosting an online meeting.  One of it’s great things is the number of people you can see on the screen at once – up to 45.  At the upper end of that number people get quite small but it’s good to be able to see everyone.  There have been some security concerns with ‘Zoom-bombing’ but the simple solution is to make sure you apply a password to all your meetings.  Zoom is primarily an enterprise tool and is great for getting people together, but if you’re looking for entertainment as part of your solution then Zoom is not the answer.

The Free plan allows you to have meeting up to 40mins long with up to 100 people so this works for many families.

  1. Teams.

Microsoft’s replacement for Skype and centrepiece of the Office365 suite is evolving rapidly with new functionality being rolled out constantly.  One of the biggest complaints was being limited to seeing 4 people on a screen but this has now been resolved.  Similar to Zoom, Teams is great for getting together with people and has many similar functions but lacks any inbuilt functionality to entertain or engage.  Teams have not had the security concerns of Zoom, but as it’s part of a broader Microsoft suite this is unsurprising.  Teams is broader than video conferencing and facilitate chat, file sharing, ‘channels’ and other functionality to support enhanced communication.

Teams have no free plan and comes as part of the Office365 package.

  1. Houseparty.

Houseparty is a social networking app that allows up to 8 people in a ‘room’ so it’s a vastly different concept from Zoom and Teams.  It’s aimed squarely at families and young people who want to have some fun as part of their online meeting experience.  To play a game, click on the dice icon on the top right.  Games include Heads Up!, Trivia, Quick Draw, and Chips and Guac!  Tap a game and you’ll be asked to add friends to play with you. Wait for them to connect, then it’s game on!  Make sure you lock the chat so uninvited people cannot enter the room and you should be secure.

  1. Messenger/Messenger Kids.

Owned by Facebook, Messenger is aimed at personal users who want to have small group interactions with their Facebook contacts.  It’s a chat app that has video call functionality and also has filters and games to entertain people on a call.  If you are a Facebook user, and let’s face it most of us are, then this a quick and easy way to chat with friends and family and have some fun.

Messenger Kids was recently released and provide control for the parents over who the kids can talk to so there’s minimal risk of them talking to the wrong people.  If you only want them to talk to grandparents then only allow them on the access list.  I haven’t used Messenger Kids yet, and I’m reluctant because of Facebook’s issue with privacy and security.

  1. WhatsApp.

Another app owned by Facebook, WhatsApp doesn’t have as many of the ‘fun’ features as Messenger and Houseparty if that’s what you’re looking for.  It does offer end to end encryption which provides some security for what is being communicated.


With all of these tools, pick the one that best suits your purpose.  Register with a generic email account, not your main personal account so it’s kept separate from your usual emails.  Have fun and enjoy!  2020 has been a unique year but find as much enjoyment as you can and keep in touch with your friends and family regardless of the circumstances.


It’s R U OK today this week so please use these tools to check in on friends and family.


For more information please contact me at enquiries@roadmapit.com.au

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I specialise in driving digital transformation in organisations. My success is based on a philosophy that is business-led, where I align best-practice in technology with business strategy and customer requirements in a way that is efficient and cost-effective. I enjoy wearing multiple hats leading a ... more

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