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To all the apps we’ve loved before (you know, during the last lockdown)

From Ludo King to Among Us, a look at the rise (and fall) of the apps that kept us company during the pandemic

Upasya Bhowal | Published 14.01.22, 08:20 PM

Representational image

In a pre-pandemic era, mobile phones were the root of all problems. 

Be it poor results in school or increasingly shortening attention spans, our phones have patiently borne the brunt of all the blame that we steered its way. 

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But it turns out whoever coined that wise, old proverb – Every dog has his day – knew what they were talking about. With the coming of the pandemic, our phones truly found their moment to shine, and what’s even better is that they are still very much shining (hello new wave, our old friend) as more and more people find their lives inseparably tangled with this beloved little gadget. 

And while the shift to digital has turned the spotlight on the virtual world in general, there are some apps that have enjoyed more stardom than others.
Installed with every new lockdown and forgotten the minute those restrictions were lifted, My Kolkata takes stock of some of these ‘stars’ that made the pandemic a little more bearable.

Ludo King

Imagine this: It is March 2020. 

The first circular of a lockdown has just been released and you are overjoyed at having this unexpected week of holiday. That evening you and your friends download Ludo King and decide to play every night from 11pm. 
It may only be for a week (“It’s just a virus. Will go away soon.”) but considering the dedication everyone shows for those nightly matches, it might as well be a World Championship. 

Life’s good. 

Google Play Store

Ludo King truly emerged as the OG lockdown app during the first wave of the pandemic. With provisions for single and multi-player games, this app shot to fame almost overnight, with people of all age groups making “Ludo plans” with their friends. The app also came in pretty handy for those households which did not have a ludo set or could not find it or dug it out from a dusty corner of their cupboard only to find it almost in shreds – you could play a game offline as well.

All you had to do was download the app and huddle around!
 

Among Us

At a certain point during the pandemic, you could divide the world into two distinct groups: 
Those who played Among Us vs. Those who didn’t know the first thing about it.

Epic Games Store

Allowing teams of 4-15 people, crewmates in the game can win either by completing some tasks or by correctly identifying the impostor among them. Like you might expect, it is the job of the impostor to kill everyone on board and look for ways to sabotage tasks, all while ensuring solid alibis, thereby leading to an atmosphere of complete chaos. 

Owing to the scope of playing in bigger teams than most other multiplayer games, Among Us can be credited with having forged a fair share of pandemic friendships, all of which were built on the strong foundation of exchanging the many memes that the game had inspired.

It is like they say: Nothing brings two people closer, quicker than (a game of) teamwork and betrayal.
 

Houseparty

Since in-person house parties dwindled to a pitiful zero, it only made sense that the Internet would find a way to compensate. The Houseparty app allowed friends to video call while playing popular party games like Heads up, Trivia and Pictionary. In fact it also allowed other friends to randomly join your existing video call, chat for a while and then leave – much like a party itself!

houseparty.com

The app did a commendable job of trying to recreate the concept of house parties online (full marks for effort) but unfortunately could not sustain the hype and was withdrawn from app stores sometime around October 2021.
 

Clubhouse

Remember that scene in F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Rachel is left scarred after she accidentally listens in on Monica having a romantic (read: steamy) conversation over the phone with Chandler?
You can do something similar on Clubhouse, except that in this case, you won’t be violating someone’s privacy (take notes, Rachel).

Google Play store

A social audio app, Clubhouse users could engage in topic-specific discussions inside audio chat rooms. People could not only listen to ongoing chats between hosts and guests, but also be invited by the host and allowed to be a part of the conversation! As if that was not cool enough, the app shot to fame after Elon Musk made a debut on the platform.
 

Duolingo

Dalgona coffee and sourdough bread aside, if there’s anything else that became quite the rage during the pandemic, it was learning a new language. While Money Heist fans finally got round to learning Spanish, K-drama enthusiasts decided to slam the break on their next bingefest and learn some Korean instead. 

And where else to take language lessons for free than the good ol’ green owl of Duolingo?

Duolingo.com

Equipped with leaderboards, monthly challenges and (VERY) persistent reminders, you simply cannot abruptly stop lessons on Duolingo without feeling guilty about losing all your hard-earned progress. 

(Which is exactly why we recommend slowly letting go, one skipped lesson at a time.) 

Fitness and Wellness apps

Okay look, let’s be honest with ourselves.
Somewhere amidst all that doom scrolling and binge-watching, we made up our minds to convert to a healthy, balanced life where we exercise everyday and practise mindfulness and do yoga and not order in food… you get the gist. 

And we did make commendable progress in that direction for the first few weeks (like those New Year resolutions) after which it too faded away into oblivion. But we hope to return to it someday because those fitness and meditation apps are still very much on our phones (think Cult.fit, Calm, HealthifyMe). We scroll past them every once in a while, promising ourselves that we’ll get back to it seriously “from next Monday”, but it has been a lot of Mondays since then, and it seems unlikely that the status quo will change anytime soon.

We don’t really have elaborate justifications for slacking off but would like to remind you of that famous old saying:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pandemic is much more bearable when everyday is a cheat day. 

And if you are reading this while you’re sprawling in bed, with your mind already drifting towards what your next snack is going to be, then we’re sure you agree with us. 

Last updated on 14.01.22, 08:20 PM
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