Romance by Phonelight: The 9 Best Dating Apps

Aug 13, 2015

Category: Tech

If given the choice between walking naked through a minefield and going out into the dating world, most of us would choose to strip down and roll the dice with the Claymores and Bouncing Betties. After all, being blown up isn’t half as painful or terrifying as running through the dating gauntlet. But, here’s the trick: Let the wonderful world wide web do the work for you. Rather than taking a ride on the dating carousel, you can get a dating app and let it do most of the work.

The key to choosing a good dating app is finding one that lets you get a solid idea of the people you’re going to meet before you ever run into them. The premium options will verify a person’s photos through social media, require they disclose certain things about themselves for easier selection, give you lots of opportunities to connect before you ever have to go for the dreaded coffee meetup, and be simple to use so you don’t waste precious time. To keep you out of the explosive territory, we’ve selected the 9 best dating apps for finding the right person, or at least the right person for right now.

Tinder

Tinder

Pro: Hugely popular
Con: Many Android users have problems getting app to verify

Platforms: Android, iOS

Fast and Loose: Tinder is still the most prolific of the dating apps out there, even if it tends to be aimed more toward those who are looking for an evening of passion rather than any kind of real romance. The setup is quick and easy with almost no profile information to fill out, since it uses your Facebook profile as a login. Once you’re on board, you’re given the pictures of local users and you swipe left or right depending on if you want to meet them or not. If both parties are interested, then they’re matched up and able to engage in whatever adult activities they desire.

Tinder is popular, which is always one of the biggest draws of any application meant to spark your interest. More users means more chances to engage with others. The casual nature of it can make it fun, but the lack of initial communication can make meetings terribly awkward, since beauty is not all there is to a person. The ability to only see who is interested in you without ever being rejected is handy and leaves you free to pursue only potential yeses rather than crafting a message to someone who plans to ignore you.

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OkCupid

OkCupid

Pro: Includes huge questionnaire that matches users
Con: Easier for users to post false data

Platforms: Android, iOS, Web

Takes All Kinds: OkCupid is among the most versatile of all dating apps, so long as you take the time to make it work for you. The initial installation is easy, but since it doesn’t attach itself to your social media profile, you have to go through and actually write about yourself. Uploading new or additional pictures is easy, and doesn’t require that you attach them to your Facebook account, which helps if you would rather show a different side of yourself to the dating community than you would to the world where your mom shares links to jobs she thinks you should have.

The biggest allure of OkCupid for many people is it is almost entirely free with no need to pay for messages. Communication is easily done, though sometimes it becomes troublesome if trying to interface between a mobile and web user, because the messages can get too long to easily read on your phone. People of diverse types and lifestyles are welcome and you can easily hunt for whoever you want, for whatever kind of relationship you desire. It’s as good for making friends as it is for dating or late night rendezvous.

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Coffee Meets Bagel

Coffee Meets Bagel

Pro: Doesn’t take more than a few minutes a day
Con: Limited profile browsing options

Platforms: Android, iOS

Smart Bomb: Coffee Meets Bagel is gradually growing, but it’s slow going. It strives to be far more targeted than most dating apps or websites in that instead of shotgunning a lot of people at you with the hope that something thrown against your romantic wall will stick, instead it gives you a daily “bagel” (which is a person) that is specifically targeted to you. Once you decide on that, you’re given a few more targeted profiles that you can “pick” if you prefer to select your own “bagel” or give one to a friend, though that costs “beans.” Yes, you will get sick of the coffee shop puns and nonsense. The notion of the targeted algorithm is to have fewer dates, with more successes.

The interface is very minimal. It begins by syncing up to your Facebook account, but then you can expand it by putting in additional pictures as well as filling out a simple personality description that says what you like and what you are looking for. When your daily match is made and both people have decided that they want to see more of the other person, you’re connected via chat. Make a successful impression there and it’s on to meeting in the big, scary world. Given the ease and lack of time commitment, having this in your back pocket for a daily check never hurts, but knowing that your potential “bagel” turned you down might sting a little.

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Hitch

Hitch

Pro: Is a hands-off approach for the user
Con: Relies on your friends

Platforms: Android, iOS

It’s a Setup: Hitch assumes that since you’re single, you’re also a horrible failure in love and shouldn’t be trusted to find your own dates. If you’re willing to admit that it might have a point, then it could just be the right app for you. It hands the reins off to your friends, allowing them to set you up with people they know, using their Facebook connections. When one of your buddies puts you and your potential match together, you’re given a short message and an invitation to connect to chat. If you hit it off with that person, then you can exchange information, but it isn’t given at the outset.

This is handy if you have busybody friends who want to set you up on a blind date, but isn’t going to work for those of a more hermetic bend whose social circle have no interest in helping them find love. The chat-then-picture routine is a double-edged sword, in that you could find you’ve been charmed by someone who doesn’t appeal to you, but also gives you the chance to show off your personality before they realize your abs are extremely well hidden.

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Happn

Happn

Pro: Guarantees that your matches live nearby
Con: Very few opportunities to shop profiles

Platforms: Android, iOS

City Slicker: Happn has gotten a lot of flak as being the app of choice for stalkers and psychopaths because it tries to match you with people who have crossed your path. Only those within 250 meters (about 820 feet if the metric system confuses you) who also have the app will show up on the list. This is highly dependent on how much you move, so travelers will have more luck, while those who are complete shut-ins won’t be able to find anyone, forcing them to die alone.

Included in the notifications of the people who you come across is the time and date so that you can see if you can try to run into them organically. This will only occur if they also like you, so there’s no need to worry about someone hunting you down. The matching system keeps your privacy safe until both parties show interest. It’s great if you live in a highly populated area where hundreds of people come into your orbit, but those out in the boonies are mostly just going to be matched with their family members and neighbors over and over again.

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Skout

Skout

Pro: Tons of options
Con: No profile or introduction to get to know the person at all

Platforms: Android, iOS

Shooting Gallery: Skout is ideal for the obsessive compulsive who likes to browse profiles en masse. You login with your Facebook profile and are instantly inundated with everyone in your area who has ever thought they might be single. You’ll have page after page after page of profiles to shop through, with those in more populated areas getting oversaturated. You don’t need to swipe, just browse the massive array of faces and pick the ones that jump out at you. You’ll instantly be able to comment to them, wink, or try to engage in chat.

Like most dating apps, the upside and the downside are much the same. Here, the focus is on looks above all else. You don’t even really have a profile to view or to fill out, it’s just picture after picture after picture. You won’t know what a person likes, hates, or get a sense of their personality beyond knowing that they happen to have a face. Superficiality is the name of the game, and if that’s the one you want to play, Skout’s easy. It’s also easy to get lost in the mix, or miss the person you really want merely because you had a weak pic on your front page.

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Grindr

Grindr

Pro: Wall to wall men to pick from
Con: Heterosexuals and women need not apply

Platforms: Android, iOS

By Men, For Men: Grindr was developed to fulfill the needs of the homosexual community who is looking to party but also more serious guys looking for stable relationships. Anyone who is gay or just curious will quickly be deluged by loads of options for all kinds of fun. Though it touts itself as being nothing but carefree entertainment, it’s actually an excellent way to meet other guys for more than just flings. The sheer quantity of available choices give you a chance to branch out and explore, but also to find some like-minded people.

From top to bottom, Grindr is supported by ads so you’ll only need to pay if you really want to ditch the few advertisements. The profiles have as much or as little depth as the user feels like adding, which gives you the option of finding either the flamboyant party boy or the quiet intellectual. Generally, it is not for the shy and retiring, so before you sign up, be sure you’re good to go, because you’ll almost surely get attention right out of the gate.

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Hinge App

Hinge

Pro: No stranger danger factor
Con: Punishes those not popular on social media

Platforms: Android, iOS

Circle of Friends: Supposedly, everyone in the world is connected through their associations. The idea is that someone you know knows someone who is perfect for you. By using your Facebook connections, Hinge selects an array of matches who have interests in common with yours and seem to be seeking the same things you are. The algorithm is surprisingly sound and good at matching you with people you didn’t know you always wanted to meet.

Probably the least awkward and creepy of any dating option, Hinge makes it simple enough to request an introduction by your existing friend, and might even give you an inside track with someone who has caught your eye. There’s less trying to force conversation with a stranger and more casual meetings that allow you to make friends and thereby expand your potential dating pool, even if they aren’t the one.

Download

Match

Match

Pro: Large number of users
Con: Overblown, unwieldy interface is better for web

Platforms: Android, iOS, Web

Old Standby: If you’ve never entered the online dating world because you’re an Amish farmer out on your Rumspringa, then you’ve never heard of Match. Everyone else already has a profile. Though the app doesn’t really add much of anything to the experience you could have online, it does have a little “Match Me” segment that allows you to engage in a Tinder-esque swiping experience which will help you whittle down your matches to people who are actually interested in you.

Since this doesn’t connect to your Facebook account, it’s simpler for users to fake their info, and with loads of people coming and going, you can miss your opportunity pretty quickly. Writing up a quality profile, posting pictures, getting a membership, browsing others, selecting matches, and whatever other steps are involved is an intensive process that tends to reward patience (and cash) above all else. The draw is the sheer popularity, while the sometimes top-heavy design is a little archaic for an app.

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