With Valentine's Day looming, you may be feeling more pressure than ever to find the perfect mate. Your smartphone may be able to help in that search. Even a few years ago, Internet dating meant tethering yourself to your computer, but these days, mobile devices and location-sensing apps have turned the world into your playground for dates, hookups and long-term relationships, with even Facebook testing out a dating service of its own for its massive social network. Check out our top dating, hook-up and meet-up apps that will help you find the Right One... or the Right Now. (Image Credit: Bbenard/Shutterstock)
A standout in a rich field of dating apps, Badoo (Android, iOS) features 370 million-plus users from more than 190 different countries, all sharing their profiles and photos as they search for matches. The app uses a lot of varied means to find interesting matches, from a Tinder-like swiping system to viewing the profiles of nearby users. Badoo puts a premium on making sure that its users are actual verified people, instead of "catfish"-style scams, with verification methods based on uploaded photos, connected social media accounts and phone verification. While the app is free to use, you can also buy premium credits to increase visibility or subscribe to gain "Super Powers," which provide expanded features.
Bumble (Android, iOS) aims to let you make new dates or friends in your area. With this app, the queen bee (any female) must make the first move after two people mutually connect and are part of each other’s hive. There’s not much time to waste — there’s just 24 hours to make some kind of contact or the connection disappears forever. For same-sex connections or friendships, either person has to make a move within 24 hours before that connection is gone, though you can get a 24-hour extension. Just looking to widen your circle of friends, as opposed to looking for a relationship? Bumble has a BFF feature for people who are not looking for dates. The Bumble Boost upgrade makes it easier and faster to meet or date people. Bumble is responding to ongoing concerns about Facebook's handling of personal data by letting you register without sharing data with the social network; instead, you can create an account with just your phone number.
A little bit of Tinder and a little bit of OkCupid, Clover (Android, iOS) takes a grab bag approach with a variety of ways to find and meet potential matches, from Tinder-like swiping to questionnaires, date planners, and detailed profiles with lists of interests. Clover avoids the one-trick pony trap of more focused dating app experiences, so if you ever get bored of the swiping style, you can always try participating in live mixers, check out the 20 Questions game, or even experiment with Clover's "on demand dating." As with other apps, Clover has premium tiers that can improve visibility and add or improve existing features.
Coffee Meets Bagel (Android, iOS) takes the opposite approach to many dating apps, trying to focus on quality rather than quantity. Every day at noon, the app will send men a small selection of potential matches based on their profile and preferences, and women are then sent a number of matches who've shown interest in them, leaving the ladies the option of reciprocating the like. If the attraction is mutual, then the app will set you up with a 7-day chat window and icebreaker. A recent redesign of the app puts a greater emphasis on user profiles, giving you the ability to comment on profiles and photos in hopes of fostering more connections between Coffee Meets Bagel users.
eharmony (Android, iOS) is a long time player in the online dating game, and the first service to push an algorithmic system to try to make the best possible dating matches for its members. Once you create an account, users go through a "Relationship Questionnaire" to create a personality profile that helps match you with other users that eharmony thinks you'll click with. Every day, the app will provide you with a selection of matches and your areas of compatibility; you'll have the option to connect if the interest is mutual. Premium subscribers get expanded matching and discovery options, and other features like being able to see who has recently viewed your profile.
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.
Her (Android, iOS) is a dating and social network app designed with lesbian, bisexual and queer users in mind. You sign up with Facebook or Instagram accounts, and then view a stream of activity from other verified Her users both in your area and globally. You can Like photos of other users, and if the interest is mutual, the app will link you up to chat. Of course, it's also more than just meeting prospective dates, with the app offering social features, news and articles about LGBTQ issues, events, questions and more. While the app is free to use and sign up for, a premium subscription adds extra features.