What is Houseparty? All about the new face-to-face social network
When you are stuck at home, practising social distancing, it might be a little difficult to deal with all the loneliness. Virtual meeting services, like Skype and Duo, can help with face-to-face interaction but many want something more than simple video calls. This is where Houseparty comes in - a new app making waves with the promise of face-to-face socialization. Here's all about it.
So, what is Houseparty?
Houseparty, in simple terms, is a group video chat app. But, unlike many others in this arena, it offers a more casual video calling experience, just like a gathering of friends at home. You can sign up with basic personal details and then jump in and out of ongoing 'house parties' of friends, even play games with them while being on the call.
You can download and join for free
Like many other video calling services, Houseparty is also free to download and join, be it on iOS, Android, macOS, or Chrome. You do get some in-app purchase options but those are not mandatory to join house parties. To note, the usage of the app, which has been around since 2016, has spiked spectacularly in the last two months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to get started, use Houseparty?
To get started, download Houseparty and sign up by choosing a username and password and providing basic details like your full name, email, and birthday (also phone numbers in some cases). After that, give necessary permissions to the app, hit the smiley face icon on the upper left corner, and go to 'Add friends' to connect your Facebook/Snapchat account and find friends from there.
You can also search directly by name
Along with Facebook and Snapchat accounts, you can also use your contact list to find friends active on Houseparty or search for them directly by name. There is also a way to copy and share your Houseparty profile link on other platforms to add friends.
Now, host a house party
Once you have added enough friends, you can host a house party. For this, open the app, which activates your app's camera and microphone, indicating your friends that you are 'in the house'. Then, swipe the menu appearing on the screen, head to the '+' icon on the upper right corner, select friends, and tap on 'Invite to the room' to host a party.
Afterwards, your friends can dive in
As you start the session and remain on the app, anyone added in your contacts will be able to see and dive into the party. They (and you) will also see a phone icon next to individual contacts to join in for casual face-to-face interaction, along with options for passing a note, saying Hi (to see if they are available), and sending a Facemail.
Play games with friends while "partying"
While having a party, you and your friends can play games like Heads Up!, Trivia, Quick Draw!, Chips and Guac. For this, just hit the dice in the upper right corner of the call screen and select a game. Games close automatically once you finish but if you want to quit early, everyone would have to hit the X on the top right.
You can also lock your party
If you are annoyed by people crowding your party, hit the lock-shaped icon at the bottom of the call screen. It will lock your party, but they can still ask to join. To keep parties locked by default, turn on 'Private mode' via app settings.
Finally, is the app safe?
There were concerns over the safety of the app when users reported instances of their Spotify and Netflix accounts being compromised after using Houseparty. However, the company denies any connection and says it doesn't collect passwords for other platforms and stores the passwords of its own users "in a secure database, salted and hashed, in line with best industry practices." So, yes, it's safe!