Hooray! For most students, it’s finally that most wonderful time of year– summer break! No more pencils, no more books, no more all-nighters, agonizing finals, or 15-page papers.
But if you’re moving back home for the summer, it also means no more seeing some of your new BFFs every day. So here’s a list of some of the best digital ways to stay in touch.
We have to include Goliath in our list– the true power of Facebook is that everyone is on it. You can post thoughts, videos, and photos (including all those Instagrams of iced coffees you’re sure to take over the summer) with your entire group of friends.
Sure, you have to fight with the notoriously complex and finicky algorithm to get your posts actually seen. But with chat and messages, plus Facebook’s huge database of users, a one-on-one chat with virtually anyone is only several clicks away.
Sure, we’re biased, but what’s a more fun way to keep in touch than through collaborating on a quick video mashup? Whenever inspiration strikes, you can record a 6 second video, then send it to your friends.
They’ll add their own short videos, then you all will automatically get the mashed up completed video back! No fussing, no editing, no complex interfaces. And since you and your friends are brilliant and awesome, the results are probably going to be hilarious.
3. Skype/FaceTime (iOS only)/Google hangouts
In terms of free video calling, these three apps reign supreme. Skype is the gold standard for video chatting since anyone can create an account to get started. Facebook does have an integrated video chat using Skype but it doesn’t work with all operating systems or browsers (and, obviously, not if the person isn’t on Facebook).
If all your besties have iDevices, then you’re set with FaceTime. Like most things Apple does, it’s simple and easy to use, if you have your friends in your contact list.
Google hangouts is great for group video chats, so laugh the night away with all your sorority sisters or catch up in a heartfelt chat with your old roomies.
If you can’t be bothered to actually pick up your phone and call your friends, but want to hear their voices, Zello might be your answer. Similar to walkie-talkies or those Nextel push-to-talk phones, you push a button for instant voice access to your friends.
It works on both Wifi and data networks so a quick chat is at your fingertips at just the touch of a button. You can also create or join channels with friends (or random collaborators) for a sometimes chaotic group chat.
5. Your dang calendar
The most important aspect of keeping in touch is sticking to a schedule. Summer break can be just as busy as the school semesters, what with jobs, catching up with old friends, vacations, and generally decompressing from an intense educational workload.
Setting up weekly or biweekly dates to chat can have more impact on staying in touch than any single app ever could. Plenty of apps are available to send you reminders if you don’t want to schedule it yourself.