(Pocket-lint) – It’s Christmas Day tomorrow and while it may be different to previous years, you can still have a great time thanks to tech.
Your plans might not be going as you expected or hoped for, but there are a number of ways technology can improve the experience. And the good news is, because it’s existing tech you likely already have access to, you don’t have to even venture out of the house.
Here are five ways tech can help save Christmas this year…
1. Zoom and other video calling services
With most of the UK back in lockdown, and countries around the world being cautious about how much socialising you can do, there’s never been a better time to fire up Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, or another video conferencing messaging service and have a chat.
For Christmas and New Year, Zoom has ditched the 40-minute limit on calls. And, with many festive features, such as the ability to spruce up your background, it’s a no-brainer if you’re wanting to wish family and friends a merry Christmas.
Connect a device to a TV for an even better experience. Or, if you’ve got a family member left on their own this holiday season, set an extra place at the dinner table for a tablet or laptop, so they can be part of the festivities too.
A number of streaming services, including Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, offer the ability to watch shows and films as a group, even when you are in separate places.
It’s really easy to do and means you can go some way to feeling like you are in the same room watching the same thing at the same time. This year there are some great new movies to watch as a group too, including Soul on Disney+ and the new George Clooney blockbuster, The Midnight Sky.
Sadly, the services don’t include a family member willing to get you a drink or pass the chocolates around.
3. Track Santa
By the time you read this, Santa should have started delivering presents around the world and there are a number of ways to track him.
For the first time in the UK, Sky Q subscribers can simply ask where he is via their remote, while those with a web connection can check Google’s Santa Tracker, the infamous Norad Santa tracker that’s been running for over 50 years, or the Plane Finder app.
4. Play games
You might not have a new console this Christmas thanks to the scalpers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun playing games.
Microsoft’s Xbox Games Pass and Sony’s PlayStation Plus services are brilliant ways to get started really quickly, giving you access to plenty of games included in the monthly subscription price.
Failing that, there’s Google’s Stadia clioud gaming service – which is super easy to get started with. Stadia works via the TV using a Chromecast Ultra, a computer using Google Chrome, or a supported mobile device. You can get up and running today without leaving your home.
5. Last minute shopping
The shops might be shut, but that doesn’t mean they’re closed online. Many shops, like Amazon, are still delivering today and, with the sales starting on Boxing day, there’ll be bargains to be had.
Writing by Stuart Miles. Editing by Rik Henderson.