This walkie-talkie-style video alternative to Zoom and FaceTime doesn’t require a calendar invite.

By Southern Living Editors
April 02, 2020
Mom and Son Video Chat On Phone
Credit: Getty Images

Our phones have made keeping in touch easier than ever. Between FaceTime, text messages, DMs, and phone calls, there are so many conversations going at all times that it can be easy to confuse things you talked about virtually for things that happened in person. (Unless something was sent via a talking iPhone emoji. It’s pretty hard to confuse an animated talking monkey head with real life.)

But even so, that always-on connectivity has proven itself challenging as we’ve entered the new normal of social distancing amid the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. Families juggling young kids at home may not be able to answer that off-the-cuff FaceTime from grandma while trying to homeschool or sit down for dinner. Attempt to schedule something, and you’re probably setting yourself up for a toddler temper tantrum around that exact time. Invite a group of friends working from home to a virtual happy hour, and you’re bound to have conflicting ideas of when work actually ends if you live in different time zones. Even worse, try getting a FaceTime from literally anyone when you’re deep in a plot-twisting scene of your latest bing-worthy show. No one’s going to press pause. Not even for mom.

That’s why we’re dropping the scheduling and taking things digital walkie-talkie style on the Marco Polo app. Unlike your scheduled Zoom chats or random FaceTimes, this back and forth video app is fluid; think Snapchat, but a bit more sophisticated.

You can shoot a video message to a friend at any time, and, unlike Snapchat, it saves videos for a running conversation you can refer back to whenever you’d like. Families can replay that short clip of Aunt Sally singing a nursery rhyme for their toddler whenever they’d like. Novice cooks and bakers can watch mom explain the secrets of a family recipe on repeat. It’s all achieved on the cloud, limitless and free of charge.

Marco Polo App

Even better, though, is the impromptu style of conversation it fosters. There’s no need to be live, and, like other social media apps, the bells and whistles of filters, funny voices, text, and drawing tools keeps things playful. Plus, with group options that work on iPhone, Android, and the likes, you can include everyone in the fun, regardless of their phone type.

WATCH: Southern Grandparents React To Snapchat

Forget coordinating schedules, give your Zoom account a break, and send something to make a friend or family member smile any time of day.