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Googlers’ tips for staying connected from a distance

April 30th, 2020

Social distancing, by definition, makes it hard to get a healthy dose of human contact. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep in touch with friends and family that go beyond the standard phone call. We asked Googlers to share how they’re keeping family and friends close while staying a safe distance apart. We hope their ideas might inspire you, too.

Give your family a surprise hello through the Google Home app

To feel closer when we’re far away, I broadcast messages through the Google Home app to my family in London (I’m in California). Usually, I’ll say hi and give them a few updates on my day. I get a kick out of knowing I might give them a little surprise of suddenly hearing my voice in the hallway.

– Robin Bhaduri, Google Podcasts team

Breakfast talk on Duo

I have a Nest Hub Max in my kitchen. I use it most often while I’m cooking, but lately, I’ve been using it to video chat with family over Google Duo. I can do things like to have breakfast with my five-year-old nephew without having to hold a phone. The Nest camera adjusts to where I am in the kitchen, so I don’t have to stand in a certain spot for him to see me on video.

– Ajay Surie, Google Fit team

Cook with friends via YouTube and Google Docs

My friends send each other YouTube videos showing ways to prepare tasty dishes. We all try the same recipe, prepare it as shown in the video, and send photos to each other once the dish is completed. It’s been fun to see the similarities and differences between the same dish, prepared by different people.

– Jeff Sinckler, Tenor team

Similar to Jeff, my friends love to cook. We’ve been sharing recipes with each other using Google Docs. We reference an article or video as the main recipe link and include notes about our experiences with that recipe. Whenever someone has a question, they can add comments to the doc and the doc just gets better. This is also useful for discovering different ways to make the recipe a success, e.g. for ingredient substitutions (very relevant right now) and doubling or halving portions.

– Tahai Michelle Baik, Search team

Tell each other what you’re up to on Calendar

Even though our days are less structured than they used to be, my immediate family still puts what we’re up to on a family Google Calendar. My mom will check in after she sees I’ve taken a dance class online, I’ll ask how it went cooking a particular recipe for dinner, and we’ll reach out to my brother to ask how his online coding training went. It helps us stay close even though we’re scattered all over the world. And Calendar also reminds us to step outside to cheer every day at 7 p.m. for all the workers that are keeping things going during these difficult times.

– Genevieve Brennan, Google News team

Virtual story time videos on Photos 

My parents record themselves reading children’s books on their phones (my mom and dad switch between videographer and reader) and then add the videos to a shared Google Photos album so their grandkids can enjoy it. We use Chromecast to cast the videos to our TV and watch it with our two little ones. Although we had to cancel our annual April family vacation, it helps us all feel a little bit closer.

– JK Kearns, Search team

Find familiar meals with Maps

I’ve recently ordered delivery for my mom and dad from local restaurants through Google Maps. There are a few restaurants my parents like to visit that they’re missing during their time at home, so I thought a familiar meal would help things feel more normal for them. I’m looking forward to getting my mom a nice Greek or Italian spread for Mother’s Day.

– Ben Jose, Google Maps team