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Best Free Apps & Services to Make the Most of COVID-19 Lockdown

Wondering how to spend all this time you’ve now got on your hands? There is no shortage of apps to help us stay in touch with our loved ones, or to quieten the mind when the reclusion gets too much. There’s also plenty of ways of staying up-to-date with the most recent news developments, alongside workouts, films and sports to watch. It’s great to see how many companies have gone grassroots during the epidemic, offering their services for free! We’ve shortlisted our top pick of apps and services below, to experiment with during your long lockdown days. Of course, we all love contact with nature the most; but in its absence, for the time being… thank god for technology!

Socialising

What better time to socialize? And as far as communication apps go, we really are spoilt for choice. But aside from veteran apps such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts, there’s a couple of other interesting options. The coolest kid on the block is by far Houseparty, which allows you to connect to up to 9 friends on video conference (if you need to connect with more than 9 users, Zoom is your safest bet). It’s all the rage, probably because of its easy-to-use interface and fun games to entertain parties with.

A word of warning: It allows you to connect with people even if they’re not in your contacts. Which is great if that means you get to know your mates’ mate. But it also means that if you don’t lock the conversation, other people might be able to join in! Hence, it requires extra parental regulation for the young’uns.

Which leads us to our other favorite choice, the Caribu app. Expressly made for kid-friendly calls, they are currently offering all their features for free, while the emergency lasts.

Stress and Anxiety Management

Insight Timer – as far as FREE quality content goes, Insight Timer is the Queen of the Meditation app kingdom. By signing up to a free account, you’ll join 12 million users accessing the biggest FREE library in the world. Which includes 35,000 guided meditations in many different languages. Not bad, eh?

Our favorite feature is the Meditation Timer, which allows you to adjust polyphonic overlay bells at your preferred speed. Great for breathing exercises to ground oneself during these stressful times. Their Premium service is offering a 30-day free trial at the moment. It costs $60/year and allows access to courses by over 5K teachers.

Our other favorite mediation app is Headspace, which also offer great content, but only a 2-week free trial (annual fee is €57.99).

Learning

Whether you are new to remote working or not, Linkedin has the solution for you. The “careers” social media platform has made 16 “working-from-home” courses open access for all its users. They’re normally reserved for premium members and they span topics such as Time Management, Productivity Mindset Tips and Managing Virtual Teams. They’ve also got some instructional courses on how to learn to use Skype, WebEx and others video-conferencing tools. Last but not least, their courses on Managing Stress for Positive Change, Building Resilience and Developing Resourcefulness are particularly relevant right now. We’re definitely giving them a go.

Another great online learning platform is Coursera, which offers world class learning with +1400 free courses. It only requires your card digits only if you want to earn a certificate.

Workout

Nike Training Club provides a wide range of multi-week programs, including targeted training, yoga classes, bodyweight-only sessions, and full-equipment home workouts. But you’ll also find Mindfulness & Sleep programs, nutrition-based eating tips and strategies, and access to expert fitness instructors via chat. Sessions range from 15-60 minutes and include over 185+ free workouts. For all fitness levels. Available both on iOS and Android.

Our other favorite workout app is Peloton, which is offering 90-day-free trial for virtual or live, on-demand classes.

News

For some, following the news in the current situation is the big no-no. But for others, it might be reassuring to keep updated. We’re mainly the latter group, although we do advise to consume news in moderation and to subscribe only to high quality, trusted sources. For independent media sources, it’s hard to beat The Guardian and The Independent. And all COVID-19 content on The Guardian is free to all users.

If you’re curious to know what’s happening across the pond, The LA Times is also giving free access on their coverage of the pandemic to all readers. The excellent New York Times offers free access to articles and its newsletter, but only after you’ve signed up for a free account. Last but not least, The Washington Post also sends a free newsletter and offers free access to their daily live updates.

Sports & Films

How about a free sports fix? If you’re a basketball lover, you’ll be delighted to know that the NBA and Turner sport are giving away a free preview service. This includes all subscription products until April 22nd. Make the most of it, it normally costs $124.99/year! Available on both iOS and Android.

As for horror movie aficionados, Shudder is a movie-streaming service extending their 7-days free trial to 30 days! Just add promo code “SHUTIN” at checkout. Also available on iOS – Android – Amazon – Web App.

Done with staring at screens? We’ve got you covered with 5 Great Reads and 10 Great Podcasts to Get You Through Self-Isolation.

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