06.18.2015Personal Tech

Make Father’s Day Special: Hangout, Call or Hashtag Your Dad

This year, we will celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21st. Many of us will enjoy a backyard BBQ or a leisurely day of sports and fun with dad. But, if you can’t be there in person, you can pick up your smartphone and make Father’s Day special no matter where you are.

Hanging out with your dad the virtual way is easy and can be great fun. Here are a few ideas to help you leverage the power and capabilities of your wireless device.

1. Invite your dad to a Google Hangout. Google Hangouts is a service that allows individuals to create real-time video or chat sessions on their smartphones, tablets or Internet-connected computers. Set up is easy, the service is free and you can include up to 10 people.

You will have to do a few things in advance. Each person should have a Gmail account and should download the Google Hangouts app to his or her smartphone, tablet or computer. The Hangouts app is available for both iOS and Android devices and is compatible with most updated browsers, like Chrome or Safari.

Whoever initiates the session should have the full list of Gmail addresses for participants loaded into his or her Contacts list ahead of time. Simply open the Hangouts app on your device, begin a new video session and add additional participants one at a time. If you’re adding several people to the Hangout, we suggest you add dad last to make the surprise more dramatic.

If you and dad are not Gmail account holders, you might consider making a Skype video call. Skype to Skype video calls are generally free – but you do have to have the app on your system and be a subscriber to use the service. One other limitation: you can’t initiate a group Skype call from a mobile device – you have to be on a computer. And, mobile users can only join the audio part of the call.

2. Hashtag your dad. This option is a fun and easy way to send your dad multiple messages from multiple people throughout the day. All you have to do is create a unique hashtag for your dad on Twitter (like #BestDadKevin) and start tweeting.

You can send multiple messages including the hashtag throughout the day and invite others to join in the tweeting, too. Then let your dad know he is the subject of a special hashtag and have him search Twitter for the unique phrase. He will be able to see the entire list of tweets in one place and will be able to enjoy or respond to each of them as he sees fit. It’s a great interactive greeting, and you can do it all on your mobile device.

If your dad doesn’t tweet and other guests are able to visit him in person, have them search the hashtag on their phones and share the screen with him. Dad doesn’t have to be high tech to pull this one off!

3. Buy your dad a cup of coffee. If you are a Verizon customer, you can send your dad a cup of coffee from Starbucks via text message. This is a relatively new feature and is simple to use.

First, make sure Verizon Messages is active on your Android or iOS device – you may have to download the Messages app if you can’t find it in your current app collection. Choose your dad from the contacts list and start to compose a message. In the lower left hand part of your screen you will see a small gift box icon. When you click on that, you will be able to attach a $5, $10 or $25 Starbucks eGift card directly to your text, and the charge will be billed to your Verizon account.

Your dad doesn’t need to have Verizon Messages active on his phone – he can use any messaging application – and you can send the eGift card to him even if he is on another wireless carrier. To redeem the gift card, all dad has to do is walk into a Starbucks location, call up the text on his smartphone screen and order a cup of coffee.

Starbucks will scan the barcode directly from the text message, or if dad has a Starbucks app, he can transfer the electronic gift card straight to his own Starbucks account. This is a great way to get dad off to a fresh start on this important day.

4. Give dad a call! Father’s Day can be a busy day for dads, but chances are wherever he goes he will have his phone with him. Don’t pass up the chance to give him a call. And, with the Advanced Calling 1.0 features now available on select Verizon smartphones, you can enjoy HD sound quality and video calling capabilities with your regular calling and data plan. Give dad an HD call – it will make his day!

Have fun this Father’s Day, and make sure to let dad know you’re thinking of him, even if you can’t be with him in person.

For more Verizon Wireless news, subscribe via RSS feeds in the right rail.