What is Houseparty and how do I use it?

With around a quarter of the world now under lockdown as governments attempt to stem the spread of Coronavirus, more people than ever are looking for ways to keep themselves entertained while complying with new social distancing rules.

This has lit a fire under the online games sector, with more and more people looking for ways to stay sociable, engage their brains and have fun while at home. Among the many breakout hits is Houseparty, a social networking platform designed to promote ‘shared experiences’ among its users. In one week alone it has accumulated two million downloads, with its popularity tracking the spread of the virus around the world.

But why is it so popular and how can you get hold of it? Find out more below.

What is driving the Houseparty download frenzy?

Unlike more traditional ‘business-first’ communication and conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype or Teams, Houseparty was designed primarily with social occasions in mind.

Its functionality reflects this. Users can play in-app games such as trivia or use screen-sharing services that allow friends to go on dating apps or watch TV programmes together. Its format is also designed to mimic the spontaneity of an actual house party, notifying friends when their contacts are entering the ‘party’ and who they are talking to – with up to eight people permitted in any group conversation.

It’s the app’s ability to stay as faithful to the format of an informal social gathering, as well as the integration of games, that has driven its popularity as many of us come to terms with lockdown.

How can I get Houseparty?

Houseparty is available to download on multiple formats including Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Store and for laptop/desktop users, on Google Chrome.

Once downloaded, you’ll need to sign up. Enter your name, email address, mobile number and choose a unique username which might mean getting a little creative.

Once you’ve chosen that ideal username, it’s time to link up the service to your contacts. You can opt to give the app access to your phone’s contact book, or you can also pair the service with Facebook and Snapchat to pull in friends that way.

Houseparty will automatically recognise your contacts and friends who have already signed up, allowing you to dive into chats almost instantly.

How do I use the app?

Once you’re set up, you’ll be taken to the main screen, where you’ll likely see your own face. The ‘plus’ icon in the top right corner allows you to find your contacts and pull multiple people together into a ‘Houseparty’ for group calls.

Underneath that there’s a dice icon, which is a link to some of the games available on Houseparty, including Quick Draw (think virtual Pictionary) and the ever-popular Heads Up. Tap a game and you’ll then be asked to add friends to play with you. Once they’re connected, off you go!

To quickly kick off a chat or Houseparty, you need to swipe up on your screen. From here you’ll be able to see friends you’ve recently spoken to, and any ‘House Parties’ (group chats) currently in progress which you can join by tapping.

Did you find this useful? Will you be downloading Houseparty? For more tips on how to make the most of being at home during these times, do check out the links below: