Love On Your Smart Phone: Popular Dating Apps Decoded

September 27, 2013  |  
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As a proponent of online dating, it’s a natural leap for me to be on board with dating apps. Admit it: before they existed you were painstakingly trying to check your OkCupid account on your smart phone, via a dozen slowly loading pages. Apps just mean you can respond to messages quicker, making for speedier interactions. But when it comes to the countless dating apps out there, there are dating apps and there are “dating” apps. Here they all are, decoded, so you can know which ones should be taking up space on your phone’s memory.


Swoon lets you find out which other users who are near you are interested in you, and lets them know the same about you. You make your decision anonymously so nobody feels completely rejected. The other user will not be notified of your interest unless they’ve “liked you” in return. You log into the app via Facebook, and once you see who is near you, you’re presented with a “stack” of photos—they’re like stats cards with the user’s face, first name, age, number of shared interests, and number of shared friends. If you don’t like them, “X” them out and they’re removed from the stack. If you do like them, you can check them green.

The pros of Swoon

The Internet has not gotten any safer, so it’s great that you can see what friends you have in common so you can determine if other users run in good circles. Having friends in common also gives you something to instantly talk about if you meet! Also, the app is about as user-friendly as can be.


The cons of Swoon

The information you get is very superficial. You can’t learn much about someone just from knowing they like to cook and ski—who doesn’t? And you only get to see one picture, which doesn’t give you the best idea of what the person looks like. Not to mention, users don’t get to write anything longer than a sentence, so you don’t get to learn about them through their writing style and grammar (how will you know if they know the difference between “your” and “you’re”?)



Tinder has gotten a reputation as being one of the “dating” apps. Translation: everybody on there is just looking to hook up, or exchange provocative photos. Tinder is also an app you use anonymously and that you log onto through your Facebook. It’s a location-based app that lets you peruse photos of users near you, and you can either “x” or “heart” users depending on your interest. When you “x” them a bold “NOPE” stamps over their face, and their photo is removed to make way for the next person. There is even a matchmaker feature, which allows you to suggest matches between two of your friends.

The pros of Tinder

It is again very user friendly, and the matchmaker tool is great because, should it be used on you, you know that you and the other user are both thought highly of by a common acquaintance. And if you happen to trust that acquaintance’s judgment, you feel more confident meeting your match. Another pro is that tons of people are on it, so the pool is large on there.


The cons of Tinder

That giant “NOPE” that is slapped onto anyone’s face who you’re not into—yeah, that thing is slapped onto YOURS sometimes! And that’s just depressing to think about. It also speaks to the app’s superficiality and I think only eggs users on to see it as a hookup site. It’s basically a “hot or not” rip off.

OkCupid Dating

A lot of app daters are comfortable with OkCupid because it is based on a legitimate and complete dating site. The app is just like using the site; you take quizzes for your profile, you can see who looks at your profile and send and receive private messages.

The pros of OkCupid Dating

There is an actual formula the service uses to determine matches for you and profiles can be far more in depth than on the other apps. It’s known to draw users looking for real relationships, more than the other apps. Finally, it’s just downright entertaining.


The cons of OkCupid Dating

The formula can be misleading—you can get your hopes up a little too high just because your quiz and somebody else’s matched up well. Also, if you don’t attend to it almost daily, you’ll stop receiving attention to your profile.



Skout wasn’t created as a dating app. In fact, the company calls itself, “The global network for meeting people.” But, we all know what that becomes once you toss a social app on the Internet. It’s another app you can connect to through Facebook, but aren’t required to. You’re given the option to “add friends from Facebook” and when you do, they’re notified that you’re now on Skout too. Skout presents you with photos of users in your city, rather than finding ones in actual close proximity to you and engagement is based primarily on inbox messages.

The pros of Skout

The fact that the app doesn’t pick up on users actually near you at the moment is perhaps a pro in that it makes the app seem less like a hook up app. And, since it does market itself as a place to find connections of any kind, including friends, there are a few less creepsters on there than on other apps.


The cons of Skout

The app can get annoying, making a noise every time anything happens at all. There are also multiple steps to set it up, which can try your patience. On top of that, there are a lot of ads.

Honorable mention: EHarmony

The EHarmony app has almost all the same features as the actual website. You can view complete profiles, and even make adjustments to yours right from your phone. However, sometimes the app is behind on updates, like how long it’s been since someone has checked their profile, and it can even be slow on delivering you messages. EHarmony is also a heavy-writing site, where there are a lot of messages being sent back and forth and long form questions to answer, and typing from your phone can be a hassle. But, EHarmony does have a reputation for making the best matches, and for having the most users who are looking for committed relationships.


Honorable mention: HowAboutWe

You’ve probably noticed ads for this app showing up on your Facebook sidebar. The app is unique in that it’s intended to have you on real life dates as soon as possible, instead of just sending messages for days or even months. All users must post a date they’d like to go on—these range from a walk on the beach to a moonlight dinner cruise—and you can browse the dates to find ones that interest you. From there, you connect with the person who suggested it and set up a time to go on that date. This is great for those tired of lengthy online “courting,” but perhaps intimidating for those who want the security of “getting to know someone” before meeting up.

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