To say that Melbourne went through a collective trauma is not an overstatement. Those eight long months of lockdown felt like an eternity, feeling even longer with the rest of the country coming out of isolation and moving on with their lives. There were brief reprieves and inspirations that caught our attention, like the quest to make the best banana bread and then trying to master a sourdough. Although, ultimately, it was the smart app developments that we spent too much time on that passed the months, each of them serving our needs in different ways and at different points of struggle.
The government has provided an app to keep you informed and safe during the Covid crisis in Australia. The COVIDSafe app is a tool that helps identify people exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps us support and protect you, your friends and family. Western Australia has come out with a new SafeWA app that small businesses can use to register visiting clients via a mobile phone app for contact tracing just in case of a breakout.
ABC’s rolling coverage of COVID-19 was in high rotation for many Victorians, especially when the restrictions were tightening or easing by the minute. Other than the ABC app, so many other news sources reported on the events unfolding bringing a varied dialogue in their own app form or part of the general News app. PedestrianTV covered the news with a millennial slant, Betoota Advocate provided the satire, as well as the stalwart outlets of The Age and the Australian. Given the mix of cultural, political and personal persuasions in Melbourne, choosing a ‘source of truth’ has been integral to all Victorians and was heavily relied on in times of uncertainty.
If the need for mindfulness was a theory for some before lockdown, it was swiftly put into practice as isolating circumstances were not always conducive with a healthy mindset. Calm and Headspace are leading mindfulness apps in the marketplace offering guided meditation and playlists to support the goal of sleep, anxiety relief and affirmations. Other apps are designed to purely capture grateful moments or journaling prompts, and others encourage small activities that can bring some calm to lockdowns, such as visualisation or mindful walking. Checking in with yourself has always been an important priority, especially as the lockdown was testing the resilience of many.
Social network apps
TikTok wasn’t that new to the world at the start of 2020, but it really reached its stride in Australia at around the time lockdown took effect in March. The simple act of filming dance challenges and short videos provided a point of connection and purpose to the community who needed it. House Party was another popular app during the lockdown, which facilitated video calls and group games in the easy-to-use social platform.
When exercise was permitted for one hour a day, this was a significant announcement to those who were used to spending more time outside exercising and commuting. The closure of gyms also encouraged many to download health-tracking apps to clock how many steps a day were taken and logging exercise as it happened. Given the nature of the virus that prompted the Melbourne lockdown, the community was more attuned with their health and became more aware of any changes or possible symptoms as they were occurring.
Podcasts were growing in popularity even before the lockdown, but so many more were started in the Melbourne lockdown as a way of connecting with others and making use of the extended periods at home. Consuming news daily was a given, but hearing your trusted podcast hosts digesting that same news and discussing the state of play was a way of accepting the long lockdown that Melbourne found itself in. With podcasts now available on the Podcast app (on Apple), Spotify and Stitcher, it’s never been easier to tune in.
It was an incredible day when Melbourne came out of the eight-month-long lockdown, and it was a feat that none want to go through again. As parts of the world start their own second lockdown, apps and digital resources will no doubt assist in the long slog ahead.