Whether you're looking for Mr. or Ms. Right or Mr. or Ms. Right Now, there's an app for that. Fortunately, we live in the fast-paced, mobile age where you can meet anyone, anywhere, just by using your phone. More than ever, today's dating services are relying on technology mixed with people's desire for instant gratification. In fact, a recent study has shown that individuals are using dating apps more rapidly than any other kind of app available, including games, news and entertainment [source: Rao]. Whether you're looking for serious dating, a casual encounter or just a bar-hopping buddy, there are many services to choose from (and no more excuses that it's tough to meet people). Here are five of the most popular dating apps that you can download to your phone in about as much time as it takes you to read this sentence.
Here's how it works: Register by entering some information about yourself, including your age, gender, photos and a description of your hobbies and interests. You can then search for people within your general area, and a grid will appear with photos of people nearby and how far away they are from you. You can choose to chat, "flirt" via games, send private messages, be alerted when someone new is nearby, as well as see who is checking you out and adding you to their "HotList."
One of the first location-based dating applications developed, more than 5 million users have signed up for Skout since it launched in 2009 [source: Li]. In May 2010, Skout launched the first iPad app of its kind, revolutionizing dating for the mobile and digital age [source: Katims]. Skout apps are also available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as Android phones.
If you think it's a little creepy to track people around you, you're probably in the minority. Skout says more than a million messages are sent to its users daily, and the app's average user spends 40 minutes a day using the service [source: Manninen]. The typical Skout user is in his or her 20s, looking to flirt and have fun rather than have a serious relationship [source: Rosenbloom]. Aside from finding people to hang out with, you can also use the service to find a hot spot in your city or if you're traveling. For safety reasons, Skout never reveals your exact location or phone number, and you can turn off the location function if you choose [source: Sutter].
The basic Skout app is free, but the Scout+ version for the iPhone costs $3.99, which eliminates banner ads and frees up more space on your phone screen. There's also a point system for services such as sending virtual gifts to a certain number of other users. Those points can be bought for various prices, ranging from $4.99 for 500 points to $41.99 for 7500 points, and are considered "in-app" purchases, once you start using Skout.
Grindr is also a location-based dating app, strictly for the gay male community. Grindr has more than 2.3 million subscribers in 192 countries [source: Li]. Grindr works much the same way as Skout: Sign up, create your profile and browse a grid of photos of men in your area. You can expand the photo to learn more information and send a text message or instant message to whomever nearby interests you.
Grindr is free to download for the iPhone, but Grindr Xtra gives you many more features for a subscription fee each month. Grindr Xtra has no banner ads, allows you to see more users per search, uses push notifications when a new person is in your area, can quickly send photos and can switch between multiple chats with people. For the Blackberry and Android phones, Grindr gives you a free seven-day trial of Grindr Xtra, then switches to a $4.97 per month subscription rate [source: Grindr].
Match.com pioneered online dating when it launched in 1995 and continues to be a leader in the dating world. Throughout its decades-long history, Match.com has helped millions of singles meet, and it continues to be a successful dating site. Match.com operates one of the leading subscription-based online dating sites, with more than 15 million members in 24 countries [source: Match].
Match.com users are generally between the ages of 25 and 60, many of whom are looking for more serious relationships and dating instead of the casual, spontaneous dates that location-based apps provide [source: Woyke]. Match.com has apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android, Palm Pre-Pixi and Blackberry, which are free to download, but you must have a paid Match.com membership to access the mobile app's content. A subscription to Match.com will cost you about $34.99 per month, less if you sign up for a three-, six- or 12-month plan. Once you've signed up, you can view potential dates within your zip code and according to other dating parameters.
Zoosk, which claims to be the largest social networking-based dating site, has more than 50 million members in 60 different countries and in 25 different languages [source: Zoosk]. Founded in 2007, Zoosk's growing popularity is clear, as it reported a 250 percent increase in profits over the previous year and generating $90 million in revenue in 2010 [source: Rao]. It was also named one of The Wall Street Journal's top 50 venture capital-backed companies, due to its use of integrated social networking and mobile technology [source: Debaise].
Zoosk is interesting because it's designed to combine your Facebook account with your dating account. Zoosk encourages your friends to leave you testimonials (akin to recommendations) to your Zoosk page for all potential daters to see [source: Kelley]. Zoosk customers can interact right on Facebook as well, where suitors can send virtual gifts and flirts right to your Facebook profile.
Zoosk is accessible online through your computer and on your iPhone or Android. Both Zoosk's Web site and mobile apps are free to join, which allows you to set up a profile, including posting photos and importing your Favorites lists from your Facebook profile. However, if you want to chat or e-mail with other members, you'll have to upgrade to a paid membership. Once you pay, you can contact any other member, answer e-mails, chat online, see you viewed your profile, send virtual gifts and more. Paid memberships range from $29.95 a month to $74.95 for six months [source: Zoosk].
The eHarmony.com dating site has been around for 10 years and is one of the most comprehensive dating services on the Web. Dr. Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist, author and founder of eHarmony, developed a method of finding matches through what he calls his "29 Dimensions of Compatibility" [source: eHarmony]. When you join eHarmony, be prepared to fill out an extensive questionnaire that explores your interests, personality traits, pet peeves, passions and other aspects of your life.
The eHarmony app is available as a free download for the iPhone, iPad and Android, but you have to subscribe to the eHarmony.com service to access any of your matches through the app (you can set up a new subscription to the site through the app). In 2011, eHarmony's mobile app downloads passed 1 million, and subscribers are currently downloading the mobile app more than 10,000 times a day. In addition, more than 30 percent of eHarmony's user registrations are taking place solely through the mobile app instead of the eHarmony.com Web site. [source: Business Wire].
EHarmony's success rate speaks through its numbers: It states, right on its home page, that a 2009 survey from an outside company has shown an average of 542 people marry every day after meeting on eHarmony. EHarmony doesn't mess around -- it's a site for people looking for a serious, long-term relationship. It's also one of the most expensive dating sites. Finding your soul mate on eHarmony can run you about $59.95 if you pay month to month, less if you set up a three-, six- or 12-month plan [source: Little Red Rails].
GPS spoofing apps help disguise your actual location – great for throwing someone off your tracks. HowStuffWorks has the deets.
More Great Links
- Business Wire. "eHarmony Names Jeremy Verba Chief Executive Officer." Aug. 11, 2011. (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110811005308/en/eHarmony-Names-Jeremy-Verba-Chief-Executive-Officer
- eHarmony. (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.eharmony.com/
- Debaise, Colleen and Scott Austin. "The Top 50 Venture-Backed Companies." The Wall Street Journal. March 10, 2011. (Aug. 18, 2011) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703300904576178673309577828.html
- Grindr. "Grindr Xtra Everywhere." Aug. 18, 2011 http://www.grindr.com/Grindr_iPhone_App/Grindr_-Meet_Guys_Near_You_on_your_iPhone.html
- Katims, Lauren. "Online Dating Enters the iPad Age." Time. May 3, 2010. (Aug. 17, 2011) http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1985542,00.html
- Kelly, Raina. "The Perils of Zoosk." Newsweek. June 9, 2009. (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/06/09/the-perils-of-zoosk.html
- Li, Shan. "With smartphone dating apps, it's all about location." Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2011. (Aug. 17, 2011) http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/18/business/la-fi-dating-apps-20110518
- Little Red Rails. "What is the Cost of eHarmony Subscriptions?" (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.littleredrails.com/blog/what-is-the-price-of-eharmony-subscriptions/
- Manninen, JP. "One million singles sign up for Skout dating app." Venture Beat. July 2, 2010. (Aug. 10, 2011) http://venturebeat.com/2010/07/02/one-million-sign-up-for-skout/
- Matchmaking Institute. "The Matchmaking Industry." (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.matchmakinginstitute.com/dating-matchmaking-industry/
- Match. (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.match.com/
- Rosenbloom, Stephanie. "The New Dating Tools: A Card and a Wink." The New York Times. July 21, 2010. (Aug. 17, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/fashion/22date.html?_r=1
- Sutter, John D. "With new GPS dating apps, it's love the one you're near." CNN. Aug. 6, 2010. (Aug. 10, 2011) http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/08/06/gps.dating.apps/#fbid=AX3ZCDWJDj1&wom=false
- Woyke, Elizabeth. "Match.com's Mobile Push." Forbes. Feb. 3, 2010. (Aug. 10, 2011) http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/mobile-dating-software-technology-breakthroughs-match-com.html
- Zoosk. "Press Information." (Aug. 18, 2011) http://www.zoosk.com/press.php?from=footer