Find out how to stay entertained in isolation with our top app picks

With the newfound extra hours we’ve all been bestowed with during this period of self-isolation, we’ve been finding ourselves twiddling our thumbs and seeking out new ways to keep ourselves busy.

Instead of the usual routine of flicking back and forth between the same few apps (for me, it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify and Youtube), why not download some new apps to give your life a tech refresh? From self-care and brain training, to video chatting services, here’s our seven favourite apps that are available through the Apple Store and Google Play to see us through these longer days.


With self-isolation limiting our daily face-to-face contact with one another, an app has come to the rescue to ensure you can see still see and hear your friends from the comfort of your own home. Houseparty is a video app that allows up to eight people to share a group chat, and alerts users whenever one of their friends logs on. Having been around since April 2019, it has seen a recent surge in popularity due to the recent Covid-19 lockdowns. With Houseparty claiming that users spend an average 51 minutes a day chatting via the app, we can think of no better way to spend an hour than by catching up with our friends and family.


If you’re feeling particularly energetic or creative, TikTok is the app for you. With over 800 million active users on the platform, TikTok has taken over. Originally mostly popular with the Gen Z cohort, the video creating app has been bridging generational gaps, and is now something for the whole family to get involved in. Just last week, staff at the West Suffolk Hospital donned their scrubs and filmed themselves dancing away to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ chart-topping hit Uptown Funk. To show off your moves, simply download the app to your phone and get filming! You can add in music and special effects afterwards, and then share with your friends and family – the possibilities are endless.


While we’re being encouraged by the Government to exercise once a day, it’s just as important to stay mentally active as it is to keep physically active. This is where Elevate comes in. This brain training app’s tagline is ‘Stay sharp, build confidence, and boost productivity’ -- three things we could all do with right now. Elevate is loaded with over 35 games that cover an array of areas, including maths, reading, writing, listening and speaking. As you train, you’re able to track your performance, and the app allows you to measure it across skill groups to compare with others.

Words with Friends

An oldie but a goodie, Words with Friends brings Scrabble to the 21st century, and lets you to play up to 40 separate games with different players at the same time. The app alerts you when it’s your turn to make a move, so you’ll never miss out, and best of all, you can play with either your friends or be randomly matched with someone new. And who knows, your new opponent may just teach you some brand new words to help expand your vocabulary.


If you’re looking to instil a sense of calm and balance in your life, get downloading Headspace. The app was launched in 2012 by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, and Richard Pierson, with an aim to bring meditation to the palm of your hand. Providing the user with ‘mindfulness for your everyday life’, Headspace features meditation resources that can be accessed at any time, and in 2018 the app introduced ‘sleepcasts’ – audio content that is specifically designed to create the proper conditions for a healthy, restful night’s sleep. So install the app, take a deep breath, and find yourself slowly unwinding as you find your inner zen.


While we’re not able to venture out abroad for the foreseeable future, there’s no excuse why we can’t pick up a new language in the meantime (to hopefully put to use on our next holidays in 2021). This is where Duolingo comes in. It is a free language-learning app that offers 94 different courses across 23 languages, including the more commonly learnt languages such as Spanish, German and French, to the more obscure such as Hawaiian, Esperanto and even fictional dialect Klingon. Its personalised learning adapts to how you work best, with exercises that are tailored to help you learn and review vocabulary effectively. Duolingo has over 300 million registered users globally, and we can only see this increasing over the coming months.


If you’re a general knowledge fanatic like myself, you’ll be unsurprised to see QuizUp on this list. This app sees users compete against each other during seven rounds of timed multiple-choice questions on an array of topics. With over 1,200 topics available, all of the questions are created by content contributors from across the world, so there’s bound to be something that tickles your quizzing fancy. Akin to Words with Friends, you can compete with your nearest and dearest simply by signing into a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter, or alternatively play with a random opponent from anywhere in the world. While we may not have access to pub quizzes for now, this is a great enough substitute.

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