Coronavirus making you work from home? We tried these 6 free apps to break the monotony
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has forced several countries into lockdown, imposing remote working, or work from home, for millions of us. And by now, you must have realised how isolating and monotonous working from home can get.
So we’ve listed a few tried and tested apps that will help break the monotony and bring out your hidden talents.
Snacking much? Work from home does that to you. But with little else to do, you can surely explore cooking as an activity for yourself. Even Zomato suggests, “kabhi kabhi ghar ka khana kha lena chahiye” (you should cook and eat at home sometimes).
Enter Recipe Book, a recipe discovery app that curates recipes across cuisines like Indian, Korean, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Malaysian, Arabian and German. While recipe apps have been around for a while, Recipe Book was listed on Google’s “Editor’s Choice” apps for its search facility, which lets you find Indian and global recipes, as well as save them for offline and online use.
It has the provision of following international chefs, food critics and food blogs via curated feeds using “Follow your interests” feature.
In this app, you can search a dish by ingredients as the app lets you select ingredients and condiments and shake your phone to get a list of recipes based on them. The app has features like ‘Snap n Cook’. This allows you to click or upload a picture of the ingredients and Recipe Book will identify them through image recognition and suggest recipes.
You can also upload your recipes for regular contests announced on the app. Recipe Book is also available in Hindi, making it accessible to large parts of India.
The biggest issue while working from home and staying indoors for long periods is that you start slouching, gaining weight, start having sleep issues, and don’t do enough workout. So if you want to start with yoga, then you can download the Down Dog app.
Down Dog provides a studio-like experience, offering a set of customised sessions that ensure that no two yoga turns are the same. Featured in the Editor's Choice section of Google Play Store, Down Dog, has also announced that it made its Yoga, Yoga for Beginners, HIIT, Barre, and 7 Minute Workouts Android and iOS apps completely free until the lockdown ends.
Down Dog was started by two developers, Ben Simon and Carlos Ormachea, who share a passion for yoga. Ben and Carlos met in college, and in February 2015, quit their jobs to work full-time on building the app in Seattle. They eventually launched the iOS version of the app in August 2015 and the Android version in March 2016.
This app focusses on modern Vinyasa yoga, a style of yoga characterised by stringing postures together so that you transition from one to the other seamlessly. This is also known as ‘flow’ yoga. The app has more than 30,000 configurations to ensure that you never repeat the same workout flow or get bored.
It also lets you personalise your yoga routine in impressive ways. You can choose the duration – from five minutes to 90 minutes. You can also set difficulty level – introductory, beginner, or advanced – along with type, pace, relaxation period etc.
The app also has amazing music playlists and clear vocal instruction with high-quality video. If this doesn’t encourage you to practice yoga, nothing will.
With leaving home becoming a luxury, the longing for socialising and travelling is an all-time high. If you have the wanderlust bug, Ablo is for you. Ablo is a chat app that lets you connect, discover, and have one-on-one conversations with users from around the world, with a real-time translation for text as well as video chats.
A social networking app, Ablo lets people connect through a complementary user interface (UI) that ensures you feel like you are virtually globetrotting for friends. It welcomed us with 125 miles (‘miles’ is a metric the app uses to rank a user).
It also shows your location on the world map and indicates where it is taking you on the map itself. The app is unique as it simulates a feel of travelling without leaving your home or device. If making friends from across the world is something that excites you, you will find great value in Ablo, which is free for use.
At least eight out of 10 friends have told me that the stay-at-home lifestyle has caused them anxiety, stress and restlessness. This is the time to practice meditation. Insight Timer, a free meditation app, promises to “calm your mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, enhance deep sleep, and improve happiness.”
The app stands out for not only its quality sessions but for being able to provide short meditation exercises on the go to inculcate the habit.
The app offers around 24,000 free meditation routines to choose from – under categories like guided and unguided meditations, calming music, talks, sleep, beginners, stress etc. It has a large free library of guided meditations by top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists, and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more.
It features music tracks from renowned artists and also has talks by Sadhguru. On the App Store, Insight Timer says it adds more than 100 free guided meditations every day.
One has the option of choosing routines with spans of less than five minutes, and even over 30 minutes. You also have various customisations like music and choosing a female or male voice for audio. You can prefer high spiritual content or religious content, and can filter by benefit, practice, and even origin of meditation.
We used a host of meditation apps, but found such expansive customisation available only on Insight Timer. The app has courses such as “how to restore sound sleep”, and “getting over overeating”. While the app is free for basic courses, a Rs 5,000-per-year subscription unlocks a special catalogue of courses and will allow you to download meditation routines offline.
What’s common among Netflix’ The Kissing Booth, Hulu’s Light as a Feather, and Anna Todd’s New York Times best-selling series After? All these stories were discovered on social storytelling platform Wattpad. With a community of more than 80 million people who spend over 22 billion minutes a month, Wattpad also made it to the Editor's Choice list in the Play Store because of the stories and community feedback being its “backbone”.
Wattpad has over four million writers, who post an average of 300,000 pieces a day. The app has a vast range of categories, including fanfiction, romance, teen fiction, fantasy, and others.
It has partnerships with publishers such as Penguin Random House India, Macmillan Publishers, Anvil Publishing, and others. So, a user can read author-generated stories as well as books and stories by these publishers.
You can start writing on the app and while publishing, you submit chapters one at a time, which help you create a buzz around your content. Wattpad allows in-line comments so your followers and readers can comment on your stories. So, you don’t only get instant feedback, you can also pivot or shape your story as per user interests.
The best part? You can see your work’s momentum building as you write, which is hugely motivating for a writer.
Apart from being a great launchpad for writers, Wattpad is also extremely reader-friendly. There are a variety of books and stories, albeit, without being well proofread.
Interestingly, Wattpad helps users turn their stories into books, films, TV shows, and digital projects. Alongside, it works with production houses to discover untapped, unsigned, and talented writers. The company works with partners such as Sony Pictures, Syfy, Hulu, and others. It also has entertainment partners across Asia, including a 26-film deal with Iflix.
Wattpad makes you a member of an international community of storytellers and story lovers. You can even create reading lists, share your library, and read with your friends. The app is the perfect way for authors to connect directly and instantly with readers.
Amazon, one of the world’s Big Four tech companies, launched Audible Suno, created exclusively for Indian listeners, in December last year. The free streaming service gives you unlimited access to Audible's exclusive audio entertainment.
The app streams hundreds of hours of entertainment and learning sessions featuring many of India’s celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Karan Johar, Anil Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Mouni Roy, Anurag Kashyap, Tabu, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Diljit Dosanjh, Vir Das, and Vicky Kaushal.
At a time when most of us have no idea of how many accounts we have across multiple apps, Audible Suno offers a huge advantage: it lets you use the app without any account. Just download, and immediately start using it. It does not have any ads (so far), is free, and features exclusive content. The content on Audible Suno is spread across categories such as romance, thriller, comedy, talk shows, self-help, spirituality, drama, business, and others.
The app currently offers more than 60 original and exclusive series in both Hindi and English. Each show comprises short, easy-to-digest episodes featuring stars across categories.
The range of fiction series includes romance and relationships (Matrimonial Anonymous and Piya Milan Chowk), suspense (Thriller Factory), horror (Amitabh Bachchan in Kaali Awaazein), and comedy (The Unexperts by Abish Mathew). The non-fiction series showcase intimate interviews with some of the country’s biggest stars (Kissa Khwabon Ka, Picture Ke Peechhe with Katrina Kaif and Karan Johar), and socially relevant series that explore topics like mental health, sex education, and LGBTQ rights (Azaad Awaaz, SentiMental).
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)