10 dating apps to get your love life back on track

Love

Internet dating has certainly taken a new technological turn and is migrating from desktop to smartphone.

Yet this isn’t solely inspired by convenience: developers have been quick to build apps that take advantage of the smartphone’s features to oil the dating wheels.

They exploit the location tracking, the frictionless snap-and-send of smartphone photography and the always-on bantering of messaging software to create a less formal experience than web-based sites.

Ease of use, slick design – often more like a game than just a useful tool – these apps provide not just a connective launch pad but a source of entertainment for their users.

And unlike dating sites, most of these apps are free (though how their business models work is still rather vague).

These apps are obviously popular: based on the number of users logging in and swiping their evenings away (Tinder alone has reported 75 million matches) but I have to wonder, is app dating becoming more of a game in itself, desensitising us from the real experience, or is it the key to successfully finding a match?

Tinder

Free, iOS, Android

The key to Tinder’s preposterous success is ease of use. Log in via Facebook, select a few pictures – adding a line or two of description of yourself is optional. You can start swiping yay or nay to what appears to be a never-ending supply of possible matches generated by your GPS position and age preferences. One female-friendly feature is that guys can’t message you unless you’ve “liked” them, which reduces the lecherous spam. Works best in cities where there are more users.

Tinderly

Free, iOS, Android

Following the success of Tinder, a tiny ecosystem of apps has grown up to allow men, at least, to game the app. For example, instead of bothering to appraise every profile, this app allows guys to “like” in bulk, which enables them to wait and see which girls are keen. It also allows you to see who is Tindering in other places (helpful in deciding where to go on holiday or where to move, perhaps) and for the sentimental completists it keeps a history of every girl you’ve ever “liked”. The popularity of this app and similar apps may make Tinder a more irritating experience for female daters, so they may not be around for long.

OkCupid

Free, iOS, Android

OKCupid recently admitted that it had experimented on users by deliberately putting the “wrong” people together. Their claim being “when we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are – even when they should be wrong for each other”. Despite this, it is one of the most popular dating apps, with 30 million users and over 1 million daily logins. When you first join the app, you are asked a selection of multiple choice questions. Matches are made, based on the answers. The randomly selected questions determine matches, so the more of them you answer, the more likely it is you will find a match.

Grindr

Free, iOS, Android

In many ways Tinder’s precursor. Since its launch in 2009, Grindr has been popular with gay and bisexual men. The location-based app has been downloaded by more than four million people worldwide. It’s most popular in London, with 950,000 users passing through. Users have the option to chat and share photos – mainly of their abs and penises.

Happn

Free, iOS, Android

Like Tinder, it matches potential suitors by location and relies on Facebook for profile information; however, you don’t have to wait for a mutual like to contact. It allows potential matches to send “charms” before being registered as a match. It launched in France only five months ago, with 100,000 people signing up in the first five weeks.

Tickr

Free, iOS, Andoid

Tickr is a video-only dating app, relying on up to three 30-second movies to connect people. This idea behind the app, created by north Londoner, Daniel Freeman, is that it is a more truthful way of getting to know the personality of each person. He claims video clips will make it difficult for prospective partners to “hide as much”, enabling people to share more without having to answer questions. It is also that much harder to hide behind the flattering angled selfies which are often highly misleading with the photo-based apps. A good place to meet extroverts.

Hinge

Free, launching in the UK early 2015

Hinge may look a lot like Tinder and rely on Facebook to gather its information, but it digs deeper into the past, looking at the people previously dated, education, religion, profession and interests to find appropriate matches. Its creators claim this makes it more like a pocket dating concierge, as users are provided with a daily set of tailored matches and full screen profiles, instead of a stream of strangers’ random profiles. You can swipe to choose your matches, but you are visible to those whom you have friends in common with regardless of if you are a match or not.

Soulmates


£32 a month

You read the Observer, so chances are the Guardian’s dating site, Soulmates, would be one of first your ports of call. It has a web app, ie compared to these others it is refreshingly quaint: essentially a smartphone-shaped version of the desktop site. Once you subscribe, you can find out more about other users and contact the ones that take your fancy. There are more than 236,000 members (the average user is 34). As the Telegraph diplomatically put it: “They can’t all be Guardian readers.”

Tastebuds

Free, iOS

Could a passion for similar music lead to passion of a more carnal nature? This app could help you find out. It analyses the iTunes library on your iPhone (and, if you wish, info from last.fm and Songkick) and matches you with people on the basis of your musical taste. Filtering options mean that you have control over your matches. So don’t worry, you won’t get an ageing punk bothering you for a pogo.

Plenty of Fish

Free, iOS, Android, Windows

One of the oldest dating sites (founded in 2003), it has a significantly older pool of users, with 44 being the average age. Free membership has made it the most popular internet dating website in the UK and the US since then. Around 80-85% of POF’s logins come from mobile devices. The signup alone takes an hour, supposedly to find a better match, so it is certainly for the more time-rich date seeker.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Tess Ward, for The Observer on Friday 7th November 2014 13.30 Europe/London

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