Tech to stay in touch this Christmas

The holiday season is a festive, joyous time we can spend with family and friends. However, many live miles apart from their friends and loved ones.

To overcome the oceans between you and those you love, here are some ways you can use tech to stay connected this Christmas.

Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook

Using apps like WhatsApp, Signal and Instagram to communicate is now standard. Social media is a perfect way to stay connected to those far away. You can use pictures and videos to convey heartfelt wishes to allow others to share in your experiences vicariously.

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WhatsApp now allows video calling

Apps like WhatsApp and Skype have video calling features so your relative can see your plate before you devour your Christmas dinner.

Smart Displays

Google, Facebook and Amazon all have smart displays designed with cameras for video calling.

Facebook Portal (2nd Gen). (Photo: Facebook)

The devices make excellent gift choices for elderly relatives who may not be tech-savvy or don’t live close to other family members.

Facebook Portal (2nd Generation)

The Facebook Portal (2nd Generation) comes with a 10-inch screen that works in landscape and portrait modes. It has a 13MP smart camera that uses AI to track a subject even if they walk around. And at 114° field-of-view, the camera should be able to keep you in the frame.

One of the best features is that the Facebook Portal (2nd Gen) makes video calls via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The device also comes with Alexa built-in. The machine costs US$179 on the Facebook store.

Google Nest Hub Max
Google Nest Hub Max. (Photo: Google)

If you prefer Google’s ecosystem, you can pick up a Google Nest Hub Max. For US$229.99, the Nest Hub Max comes with a 10-inch screen, 6.5MP camera, Bluetooth 5.0, Google Cast and of course, the Google Assistant.

Image result for Google Nest Hub Max

The Nest Hub Max works with several services like YouTube, Netflix and Deezer. The Google Nest Hub Max also has an auto-framing feature like the Facebook Portal. For video calls, it uses two microphones and along with three speakers, including a sub-woofer. It is available at Best Buy.

Amazon Echo Show (stand sold separately). (Photo: Amazon)
Echo Show

Amazon’s Echo Show has a 10.1-inch display and includes Amazon Alexa. It has a 5 MP camera for video calls. Also, the Echo Show allows you to consume content through Amazon’s Prime Video and Prime Music.

Image result for Amazon Echo Show

The Echo Show can interface with different tech including Amazon’s Ring doorbell, smart bulbs and a myriad of other tech items. The Echo Show currently costs US$169.99 on Amazon.

Play online games together

Playing online games can bring families closer together.

Connecting with family and friends through an online game is a great way to connect. It’s fun to challenge a cousin or friend to an online game of FIFA, Need for Speed or NBA 2K20, even if you’re miles.

Many consoles and PC games allow you to talk to your opponent or teammate over the internet, intensifying gameplay.

Don’t let distance put a damper on your spirits this Christmas!