How to use your smartphone or tablet to keep in touch with family and friends.
Using apps on your phone or tablet can help reduce your monthly bills. These apps are free to use because they use your home (or mobile) internet connection. So, if you have Wi-Fi at home, you could be staying in touch for less.
Staying in touch can boost your mental health.
Don’t underestimate the importance of social interaction on your health. Using your phone or tablet to connect with friends and family brings many benefits. In addition to developing relationships, keeping in touch can fend off loneliness and keep you feeling positive. And remember, it takes two to communicate. So even if you feel fine, your friend or loved one might not. Having you available can bring them comfort.
You don’t need a special device or a particular brand to be able to communicate with your friends and family. Any modern smartphone or tablet will do.
There are a couple of caveats and that is Apple’s FaceTime will only work on Apple devices e.g. iPhones, iPads and Macs. And while WhatsApp will work on just about any phone, you might run into a few problems trying to get it to work on tablets.
What devices do you already have?
Do you have a smartphone? How do you know?
If it looks similar to the ones above then you’re good to go. If it can run ‘apps’ then you will have a smartphone.
Do you have a tablet? For example an Amazon Fire, iPad etc.
Use can use ‘chat apps’ to keep in touch with your family and friends for free.
What if you don’t have a device?
It’s quite possible that a family member (or friend) will have a spare device lying around the house. Don’t be afraid to ask them if you can borrow it. More often than not they’ll be happy to give it a good home.
What is an app?
An app is a piece of software that can be installed on your phone. You can find an app to do just about anything – from editing pictures, to making shopping lists. Some of the most popular include games, social networking and chat apps.
Where do you get the apps from?
Use Apps that you can download, for free, from the app store to keep in touch with loved ones. If you are not sure how to do this, ask a friend or check out this guide on how to install apps from the app store.
What Apps should you install?
WhatsApp, Messenger, FaceTime, Duo, Skype are the most popular. However, ask your family and friends what they use and install those ones. It’s ok to install multiple apps.
Many telecoms providers bundle lots of calls and texts (SMS) into their monthly tariffs. However, that is all they provide – calls and texts. You don’t get additional features such as picture and video messages.
If you’re lucky enough to have a tablet, the bigger screen can help make staying in touch that little bit easier.
What can you do?
As long as you have an internet connection, you can make a voice call, have a video chat or send thousands of texts and pictures all for free.
You can also participate in ‘group’ chats. This makes it easy to stay in touch with many people at once by using the ‘group’ feature. For example: you could be in a family group, a work group, a sports club, or a group chat with some of your friends. Staying in touch has never been more accessible.
You can send a simple text message to a single person, or you can participate in a group chat. Of course, once you have the app installed, you can send different types of messages to your contacts. For example, voice messages, documents and pictures.
We’re all at it: sending banal selfies, sharing family portraits or just what we had for dinner. Picture messaging is the number one reason to use these apps.
You can send as many as you like, all for free.
Make a voice or video call
While each app is slightly different, they share similar looking icons for making voice and video calls.
- Open the app
- Tap on a contact
- Look for the icon
- Then press the icon to make the call.
Make a voice call using WhatsApp
Voice Calling lets you call your contacts using WhatsApp for free, even if they’re in another country. Voice calling uses your phone’s Internet connection rather than your mobile’s calling plan.
Tip: check to make sure that you’re using WiFi or you have data included in your mobile plan.
Placing a voice call
Open the chat with the contact you want to voice call.
Tap Phone icon in the top right corner > voice call.
Receiving a voice call
If your phone is locked, you’ll see an incoming WHATSAPP VOICE CALL screen when someone voice calls you. You’ll need to Slide up the screen before you can Answer or Ignore the call.
If your phone is unlocked, but you’re not on WhatsApp, you’ll see an incoming WHATSAPP VOICE CALL screen when someone voice calls you where you can Answer or Ignore the call.
If your phone is unlocked and you’re on WhatsApp, you’ll see an incoming WHATSAPP CALL screen when someone voice calls you, where you can:
- Tap Answer to accept the call
- Tap Ignore to decline the call
- Tap Message to decline the call with a quick message
To place a video call:
Open the chat with the contact you want to video call.
Tap Video call .
Receiving a video call
When someone video calls you, you’ll see an incoming WHATSAPP VIDEO CALL screen, where you can:
- Swipe up to accept
- Swipe up to decline
- Swipe up to reply to decline the call with a quick message.
You can also use these apps to make group calls i.e. talk to more than one person at a time.
It depends on the app on how many participants a group call can have. WhatsApp is limited to 4, Facetime can have 30.
What will you do with your messaging apps?
Go ON NI is here to help you get the most out of your phone. Courses include:
- iPad Camera
- Shopping Online
- Introduction to the Cloud
- eMagazines and eBooks
Do you or someone you know want to make better use of smartphones and tablet devices or just improve digital skills? Why not try the free Go ON NI courses. The courses take place in libraries, community centres and other venues across Northern Ireland.