No one ever said that finding the perfect mate was easy, but the Internet has put almost every single person in your locality at your fingertips. Even a few years ago, Internet dating meant tethering yourself to your computer. Thanks to mobile devices and location-sensing apps, however, the whole world has become your playground for dates, hookups and long-term relationships. With Valentine's Day now upon us, check out our top dating, hook-up and meet-up apps that will help you find the Right One... or the Right Now.
OkCupid (Android, iOS) features a massive userbase and straightforward dating tools. But rather than rest on their laurels, OKC keeps refining and adding on features to its apps, such as a new system of "Flavors" that allows users to quickly view evocative flavors of potential matches, such as Kinky Nerds, Beard Lovers, World Travelers, etc. All this is in addition to OkCupid's messaging tools, personality quizzes, Instagram integration and other old favorites. A premium subscription adds other features, such as refined search tools and the ability to see users who have liked you.
Tinder (Android, iOS) blazed the trail, set by Grindr, toward a world of swipe and scroll dating apps. On its face Tinder encourages you to make shallow, snap judgments about potential partners. You create a simple profile with a handful of photos and a few sentences about yourself, then throw yourself at the Internet's mercy. The app displays singles in your area. If you like one, swipe the photo to the right; otherwise, swipe to the left. If you both swipe right, you can send messages and set something up. New features include GIF messaging, uploading profile photos from your phone and the ability to 'like' chat messages.
Refusing to follow the trail blazed byswipe-driven apps like Tinder, dating app Hinge decided to do a major redesign in its app philosophy and design, relaunching on iOS with an experience that's intended to be less about games and more about relationships and interesting conversations. Taking a page from the likes of Match, Hinge's new iteration dumps swipes for a more detailed profile that you fill in with pictures and stories. Users can then choose to like and comment on something in that profile, and that serves as a mutual conversation starter. Each day, you can check out new recommendations, as well as see people who have liked something in your profile. Is the new premium Hinge a way out of the dating apocalypse?
Aiming for quality over quantity, Coffee Meets Bagel (Android, iOS) brings you a single "bagel" every day: a curated match that shares mutual Facebook friends. You then have 24 hours to decide whether to like or to pass, with the app learning from your preferences. If you both express interest, CMB then brings you together in a private chatroom where you can get to know each other or plan a date. There's also an option to set up other features, such as the ability to view your mutual friends, can be unlocked by purchasing a virtual currency called "beans".
Grindr (Android, iOS) allows gay and bisexual men to meet up with like-minded men nearby. Profile creation is a fairly minimal experience, focusing on a profile pic, user name, and a few simple questions, and choosing a "Tribe" that describes your type, and then you're up finding other users and chatting them up in minutes. Grindr is free to use and advertisement-supported, but the premium version, Grindr Xtra, offers ad-free browsing in addition to other features like adding multiple Tribes and advanced search filters. One notable downside? Unlike other dating apps, push notifications for messages require Grindr Xtra.
Match.com offers its users a freemium dating experience on Android and iOS. Free users can set up online profiles, upload a few pictures of themselves and then engage in some online flirting with "winks", and have new matches delivered to them daily. More comprehensive features such as the ability to see who has checked out your profile and liked your pictures can be unlocked by a Match.com subscription. Match has continued to add on to its features, such as a Tinder-like Mixer, Android Wear and Apple Watch integration.
What PlentyOfFish (Android, iOS) lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth. This free dating app is one of the largest and most popular in the world, boasting more than 70 million members spanning the whole English-speaking world. Users set up a simple profile, including age, education and profession, then search through potential matches and message them. Plenty of Fish keeps adding small tweaks to their apps, including Chat Heads for Android users, VoIP calling for premium users and Instagram image uploads.