Harish Atharv Thakur, 26, is an entrepreneur based in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. His girlfriend, Anjali Suryavanshi, 23, works as a physiotherapist in Jabalpur in the same state. In the last few years, they have only been able to meet sporadically. “But we don’t really feel that we are away from each other, thanks to the Internet,” says Thakur.
The couple uses Viber and WhatsApp for free messages. “For special nights like birthdays or dates, we set up video-chatting on Skype, light a candle for each other and talk for hours,” says Thakur, who feels a long-distance relationship would have been impossible without the Internet, though he concedes that distance and doing the same old things virtually can become boring. “You can call on the phone, email, IM or even text, but you sometimes need something innovative to keep the zing going.”
So for couples who cannot be in the same city on Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas to light up your relationship...all you need is an Internet-enabled device.
A movie date
Watching a movie at the same time, seeing each other’s reactions, laughing at a scene together and hearing comments while the movie is playing is a memorable experience.
You need: A device with high-speed Internet, a video-camera and a tub of popcorn.
How: Log in to your Google Plus Hangout (plus.google.com/hangouts) on your laptop (or any other device enabled with a video camera and Internet). Click on the Start a Hangout button on the top right side of your screen. Install the Hangout plug-in (it will take 2 minutes). Make sure your mic and camera are working on both ends by looking at your video feed at the bottom of the page. Now invite your partner by entering his/her name in the Add Names section. Once that’s accepted, open another browser window and choose a movie to screen from YouTube (www.youtube.com/movies) offerings. Now click on the Screenshare button on the side of your screen on Hangouts. In the window that pops up, choose your browser with the YouTube movie playing and click on Share Selected Window. You can watch the movie along with a video box to see each other’s expressions and voices at the same time.
Post some smiles
If you and your partner are in different time zones and there’s no way you can even be online at the same time, then here’s something you can do: Record your day as it happens, the things you do and the moments when you miss your partner the most. When your Valentine wakes up later, he/she will have all these video messages waiting in their Tango app. All he/she needs to do is open an app and smile at your day’s antics.
You need: A webcam-enabled laptop or a smartphone.
How: Download the Tango (www.tango.me) app for desktops, iOS, Android or Windows Phone 7. Tango works like other IM chat apps like WhatsApp and Viber, except that you can send messages in video format. Once you have installed it in your phone, it automatically includes contacts from your Contact list. Choose your date’s contact and then click on Video Message. Record a message and tap Send.
Share your entire day
Sometimes a mere email or even a series of messages are not enough to convey your life to each other or what you have been going through. Sharing messages isn’t enough for some people and if you’re one of them, then Couple is a way to share every part of your life.
You need: Internet-enabled smartphones.
How: Couple (trycouple.com, free for iOS and Android) is a social network app for just the two of you. You can share photos, text, “miss you” moments, take pictures and post things you see and go by, video-chat, create to-do lists, put in special dates and even sketch together. You can even thumbkiss or match your thumbs on your phones’ screens and get a vibration. Other apps which are similar and act like a digital dropbox for all your memories are Between (appbetween.us, free for iOS and Android) and Avocado (avocado.io, free for iPhone and Android).
Play a board game
From Scrabble to Pictionary to Euro-style board games—almost all the popular games are available to play for free online. Pick something you both like, and start playing.
You need: A computer.
How: OMGPOP (omgpop.com) offers cute 3D games ranging from card games to Pictionary. It has about 30 games on its list. All you need to do is take your pick from the Games list on the top and press Play Now. That leads you into a “lobby” area where you can invite others to play with you. Click on the Invite link below the game, and you can send the link generated to your partner.
Go to a concert
Love attending music concerts together? With live streaming you can go to an online concert with your partner as a date.
You need: An Internet-connected device with external speakers (laptop or tablet speakers would not suffice for a good music show).
How: IRocke (irocke.com) is a collection of live-stream concerts from around the world. Most of their concerts are free and there are many choices in terms of timing, genre and artistes. Log on to the platform and filter the shows available by Genre or Rating. Once you have chosen a concert, click on it, RSVP and invite your partner. Now all you need to do is prepare as you wait for the show to start streaming. Meanwhile, use Google’s Hangout or some other software like Oovoo (oovoo.com) to share your screen, so you can watch the concert and see each other at the same time.
Create a treasure hunt
Surprise your partner with a treasure hunt in the city he/she is based in. This will take a bit of a planning and time, but believe us, the pain is worth it when you see your partner’s face light up in delight.
You need: A GPS- and Internet-enabled smartphone.
How: First of all, think up an innovative treasure hunt. It could be a special place within the city, or to a historical landmark, or even a place where you might want him/her to shop for something for you. Now launch the Huntzz app (www.huntzz.com, free for iPhone and Android). Click on the Create button at the bottom and add a title as well as description, distance and duration details. Click on Edit Clues and then Add New Clue. Keep adding clues as well as the location you want your partner to be in. The Location can be a room in a museum, a landmark or a coffee shop. Make sure all your locations are marked. Once your treasure hunt is complete, simply click on Share and email it to your loved one. Get a local friend to have something nice waiting at the end of the trail, or at least make sure the hunt ends somewhere special.