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The 9 best apps for keeping in touch with your family when you head to uni

Posted in Blog by on June 23, 2020

Whichever way you look at it, heading off to university is a big deal. Sure, there’ll be plenty of new learning experiences and you’re probably geared up to have more than your fair share of fun, but leaving the family behind isn’t going to be easy – especially if you’re heading far from home.

Happily, we live in a digital age where there are plenty of ways to keep in touch with loved ones back home, no matter where you are in the world. Take a look at some of our favourite apps for keeping in touch below.


WhatsApp – best for ease of use

You’ve probably already got WhatsApp installed on your phone. It’s a fast, simple, secure messaging service that can be used on virtually any device, and has long been the go-to for Wi-Fi calling. Now, the app offers video calling too – so there are all sorts of ways to stay connected with those you love.

One of the other features of WhatsApp is group messaging; this is great for when you want to connect with lots of friends and family at once, whether it’s sharing photos or arranging the next meetup.


Skype – best for fast and reliable video calling

Skype came onto the scene back in 2003. It’s one of the oldest video calling apps around but it still does the trick. It’s super reliable and works on your desktop, mobile, tablet or even your home hub device. It features HD calling, screen sharing and call recording, and works for one-to-one or group calls. What’s more, a subscription means you can make economical calls all over the world even if your Wi-Fi isn’t the best.


Viber – best for going global

If you’re moving far from home, then a global option might be your best bet. Viber is an alternative to Skype that connects 800 million users across the planet. It’s been around since 2010 but the technology is constantly evolving and now includes chat and message functions in addition to the very effective video calling option. It works across iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and more. It’s free to use and there’s even a walkie talkie function for a fun way to connect with your friends.


female on video call with parents


Zoom – best for big families

Zoom has been ticking along as a corporate office staple for some time now, but recent events have thrust it into the limelight as the best way to connect big groups over video call. The cloud-based video conferencing service offers both video and audio chats and allows you to record the session to watch back later. One of its best features is the tiled view section, where you can see up to 10 people at a time in handy, equally-sized boxes.


WeChat – best one-stop-shop

What would you get if you took Facebook, Skype, Twitter and Instagram and rolled them into one? Well, it would probably look a little something like WeChat. The app is being hailed as the best of all worlds and allows you to share photos and videos directly with users or to post to their wall. There’s a handy function called ‘Shake’ which allows you to find users nearby and, of course, it offers voice chat, video chat and group chat.


HouseParty – best if you have kids in the family

HouseParty adds a new dimension to video calling, introducing fun, interactive games that you can play with friends and family. The app allows you to choose from a selection of games, including Heads Up, Trivia and Quick Draw. They’re all pretty simple and great for kids, so if you have little siblings or nieces and nephews it’s a great way to stay in regular contact without resorting to asking them how school is. Of course, you don’t need to play games, and HouseParty is just as good as any other video service for one-to-one or group chats.


girl on video call with sister


FaceTime – best for Apple users

Do you, your family and friends own Apple devices? Then FaceTime might well be your simplest solution for keeping in touch at university. Whether you’re an iPhone user, a MacBook owner or like working on an iPad, FaceTime is pretty much flawless. As long as you have Wi-Fi or data, you can connect with anyone in the world in a very intuitive and hassle-free way. It’s great for chatting with parents who aren’t so savvy when it comes to technology, too.


Facebook Messenger – best for Facebook fans

Facebook Messenger is a free app that allows you to make video or voice calls on the go. It doesn’t matter what device you’re using, if it has the app then you can get connected in no time. The features of Facebook Messenger are limited for video calling, but it’s a simple, intuitive platform when you’re out and about and just want a quick catch-up with friends and family.


mother and daughter laughing


Google Duo – best if you want to try something new (and keep your data protected)

Google Duo is pretty new in the world of video calling, but given that Google is behind it, it will likely be the next big thing. Duo enables one-to-one video and voice calls and works on both iOS and Android devices. It uses your phone number and allows you to call anyone in your contact list, with end-to-end encryption to keep you and your data secure.


We hope this guide has given you a few options when it comes to keeping in touch with friends and family, even if you can’t be with them. At Nido, we offer more than just stylish student accommodation – we help build communities where you feel comfortable, happy and connected. For more information, visit the homepage today.