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Here’s an app that turns social distancing into a competition for you and your friends

It’s another way to feel a little less alone while still heeding public health experts’ advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s an app that turns social distancing into a competition for you and your friends
[Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash]

It’s social distancing, the game. Well, sort of.

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Snapchat’s app for sharing your location with friends, Zenly, is challenging you to stay put during the coronavirus pandemic. Out today, the app’s Stay at Home leaderboard reveals who in your friend group is spending the most time at home based on your activity over the past three days. That means you still have a chance to redeem yourself if you were one of the many people chastised for crowding public parks this past weekend in cities like Los Angeles.

Snap bought Zenly in the middle of 2018. Under normal circumstances, the app encourages users to go out and meet up. However, as officials issue shelter-in-place orders to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, Zenly is challenging users to do just the opposite, and in doing so it joins the makers of social games like Drawful and Animal Crossing. While Zenly is the first app we’ve seen to literally gamify social distancing during the pandemic, online games across the board have emerged as void-fillers for the many humans coping with a sudden drop in social time with friends and family.

If you’ve been ordered or advised to shelter in place, Zenly’s challenge shouldn’t discourage you from cautiously stepping outside for essentials or exercise. But if you’re comfortable sharing your location with your friends, the challenge offers another way to feel a little less alone while you stay put and follow the advice of public health experts.

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