While I’m not a very “app-savvy” person (I still don’t understand how to use Snapchat), during this time of missing friends and family, I’ve been turning to social apps more to keep in touch with loved ones, and ensuring my son Jack remains connected to his Memaw. Beyond FaceTime, we've found that The Marco Polo app is perfect for kids and grandparents, and y'all, my friends and I love it, too. The concept is you “Marco” your friends and family, and they “Polo” back with everyone sending videos and text back and forth.
According to the app’s website, creators Vlada and Michal Bortnik wanted to ensure their extended family was a part of their kids’ lives, even if they lived 5,000 miles away. And they didn’t just want to send the “occasional photo or text.” The couple wanted long-distance family and friends to have “meaningful connections” with their family. With this app, it’s like talking and playing face-to-face with friends and family every day.
And not only is this app so easy that I can actually use it, but the really awesome thing about Marco Polo is that it’s sort of like FaceTime, but it’s much cooler with filters, voice effects, emojis, text, and even doodles. Oh, and each party doesn’t even have to be “on” at the same time to chat with each other, because you leave the “Marco” videos with your friends and family to look at — at their convenience. So no matter what time zone you’re in, you can be connected. This is a great feature for my son and mom, because whenever he wants to talk to Memaw, it’s usually at 7 a.m., and she’s definitely not up at that hour. So we will record videos for Memaw to wake up to, and if my son’s napping or already asleep for the night, Memaw can record a message for Jack to wake up to.
And these aren't just regular videos. The filter options can give you a fun pop, with options like the black-and-white “Movie Star” filter, the bright “Pop Art” filter, the “Night Vision” filter that kind of makes you look like a ghost, the “Toon” filter that makes you look like you’re in a comic strip, the “Sketch” filter that looks like you’ve been penciled in, and the “America” filter which looks pretty similar to Obama’s “Hope” campaign poster. You can also upload videos and photos from your camera roll, or just simply send text to your friends and family. Spice up that text option by typing over whatever you’re videoing at the time for a live-action shot. You can also react “live” to someone else’s video by recording your reaction to the video while it’s playing. This came in handy when I was showing my sister-in-law Jack’s new favorite Elmo song video featuring Fifth Harmony. She appropriately cringed during the video and apologized for my misery, but she also showed us Jack’s baby cousin bopping to the beat, too. I guess it runs in the family.
And if you’re not comfortable “live reacting” to a video, there are five emojis on the right-hand side of the app so you can react that way, too. The voice disguisers kill me with the high-pitched “Helium,” “Macho,” and “Robot” options, and my friends and I had way too much fun with these last night after some wine in our group chat.
Oh, and the group chat option is the other awesome thing about the Marco Polo app. You can create groups so you can all send videos to that group for everyone to see, or you can do one-on-one Marco Polos with friends and family. It’s a great way to keep everyone up-to-date with one video of your baby’s first words, steps, or showing off their latest doodle to friends and family without having to send a video to a bunch of different people separately. It was also fun to “doodle” live with my friends and have the doodle move as I was speaking by using my fingertips. It's just a lot of fun all around when using this app, whether it's having fun with your friends or staying connected with family.
You can download the Marco Polo app for free on the app store or on Google Play to get started making meaningful connections and maintaining relationships.