Critics like to talk about how smartphones, apps and the Internet are responsible for the alienation and disconnect in modern society, but technology is also really good at bringing people together. Just look at dating apps, making connections with those around you as simple as a swipe on you phone. Check out our top 10 dating, hook-up and meet-up apps that will help you find the Right One... or the Right Now.
Tinder has attracted a lot of attention thanks to how easy it is to set-up and use. All you need to do is log-in with your Facebook account, and Tinder will upload your first name your photos, your interests, and your age from your profile to create a Tinder profile. You can then anonymously browse potential matches near you, swiping right if you're interested in the person you're currently seeing, or swiping left if you reject them. You can also tap on their profile picture to see any other photos they have, if mutual friends, or common interests you have. If you both swiped right, Tinder will let you know that it's a mutual thing, and offers to let you send a message, and maybe set-up a date. Tinder's received positive reviews thanks to its emphasis on privacy and minimal initial emotional investment, since you only find out about the interested ones without the pain of rejection.
Coffee Meets Bagel (iOS) (Free)
If you're looking to meet interesting new people without having to wade through dozens of profiles and invites from random people, try out Coffee Meets Bagel. At noon everyday the CMB app sends you a "bagel": a curated match that shares mutual Facebook friends which you can then Like or Pass (with the app learning from your preferences). If you and your bagel both express interest, then Coffee Meets Bagel connects the two of you by a private chatroom that allows you to get to know each other and plan out a date. Other features, such as the ability to view your mutual friends, can be unlocked by purchasing a virtual currency called "beans".
Hinge tries to take the awkward randomness out of meeting people online by making sure that it introduces you to people that you share mutual Facebook friends with, hopefully cutting out the creep factor and trying to make sure that you have a good chance of having people, experiences and interests in common. Users log in with their Facebook accounts, enter preferences, sexual orientation, location and age. Every day at noon, the app supplies you with a field of potential matches. And, of course, because you know friends in common, you're both more accountable and less likely to act like jerks when faced with the prospect of real world social blowback.
Loveflutter (iOS) (Free)
Tired of superficial dating profile pics? Loveflutter asks users to lead with a quirky or interesting fact about themselves superimposed over a blurred out image, which only reveals more information if you hold on the prospective match's profile. If the factoid piques your interest, you can drill down to discover mutual friends, matching or similar interests and other info to help you decide whether to like or pass. Loveflutter also tries to be a helpful matchmaker with its Suggest A Date feature, which recommends quirky places nearby to hold a date from a curated list of locations.
Hitch is betting on the adage that "friends know better" by letting your friends set up matches for you. Once users log in with their Facebook accounts, they can then match their friends together through built-in anonymous chat. All you get is the age and gender of your match, as well as the mutual acquaintance that matched you, along with a short message. If you hit it off in the chat, you can send a Reveal Request to find out more about your match. Whether you're single and looking for a match or somebody looking to play matchmaker for two friends, there's something for you to love in Hitch.
If you're looking for the ideal first date, why not give How About We a try? Rather than flicking through profiles, this dating app has you describing the kind of date you want to go out on, whether it's early morning coffee, jogging, pub crawling or karaoke. Users can then check out other people's date ideas, profiles and messages, and then head off to meet them offline. Users can set up a profile and date ideas for free, with a subscription tier adding extra features.
OKCupid has a reputation as being the most popular data driven dating site, and they have the stats to prove it. The app has, basically, all the functions of their website in mobile form, including building your profile, checking out and rating other profiles, answering quizzes and chatting up potential dates. A welcome feature is the ability to upload photos from your phone directly to your profile, which means that fantastic photo you took with the tiger from the zoo can be immediately set as your profile picture. Just don't end up on Fedoras of OKCupid, please.
A venerable presence in online dating, Match.com offers its mobile 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. On iOS, Match.com features a new feature called Stream for quickly checking out nearby matches, and a Tinder-like Mixer feature for quickly sending a like or pass on potential dates. Android users can also enjoy new Android Wear integration to search, exchange messages and rate matches on smartwatches.
Grindr is one of the most successful hook-up apps catering to gay, bisexual and bi-curious men. One of the first to capitalize on geosocial networking, Grindr has become so predominant in gay culture that at some gay social events, it's far more common to exchange Grindr usernames than Facebook or email addresses. Grindr is free to use and advertisement-supported, but the subscription version, Grindr Xtra, offers ad-free browsing in addition to other features.
Down, formerly known as Bang With Friends, got a lot of buzz last year when it first came out. After logging in with your Facebook account, you then go through your Facebook friends (and their friends) and start tagging which ones you find sexy. If there is a mutual interest, Down will let you know, and then it's up to you and your friend to decide on what your next step is. Down promises that your interactions with the app will be kept safe and anonymous, and that your Facebook friends won't know about your choices if you don't want them to. It's like passing a note in high school asking if they like you or not, except the question is R-rated.
Bonus: Healthvana (iOS)
We round off the list with Healthvana, a free iOS app that aims to make STD testing and STD status verification easy, safe and secure. When it comes to finding an STD testing center, Healthvana not only provides you with a map showing you the local centers, but will also provide a community-generated rating of their location, facilities and service. Healthvana will then store your test results anonymously and securely, and you can show to your potential partners your verified test results as well as the date of those tests. If you keep a liberal lifestyle, it pays to be safe, and Healthvana is a great way to preserve peace of mind for you and your partner.