Thursday, August 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Staying together while far apart

Spin: The New Together (iPhone, iPad) is a real-time video-chat and photo-sharing app for iOS users. Up to 10 friends can chat on the same channel and watch YouTube videos, share pictures, and even "write" or comment on their friends' photos.

Cost: Free

What's hot: Group chats are fun, but for me the real treat was seeing my friends' YouTube videos and Instagram photos. I could comment on them by "writing" or doodling on them with Spin's Chalk Talk. I could even push an applause button if I really loved their work. Which I did - again and again until I was annoying. Using the app definitely helps conquer on-the-road loneliness. It was like hanging out with friends in the same room despite the miles. Great for parents on business trips, too.

What's not: When I tried to add or invite a friend who was not on Spin, he or she either didn't get it or wasn't able to connect. I needed to alert a friend who was already on Spin to make a gathering happen. I also couldn't connect with my friend in London through the Spin app, but later learned that travelers need to download the app in the United States before they go abroad. It's not yet available for Android or Windows.

Worth it? Yes, as a potential remedy for homesickness. But spend some time practicing with it before you have your first gathering on the road.

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