Love at first swipe

Winning the game of love one dating app at a time

online dating app

Life can be tough. And for some, finding someone to share it with is equally difficult—or even worse.

Looking for your soul mate requires hard work: going out more, expanding your horizon, and meeting new people. But how much effort can you give this noble search before you decide that cats and solitary confinement sound more appealing than enrolling to yet another yoga-for-beginners class?

Thankfully, we may never know. Technology has placed almost everything we need at our fingertips that when it comes to finding The One, there is always an app for that—a bunch of them, really.

Happn (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows

Happn is relatively new in the mobile dating scene, but it’s not necessarily trailing behind in the race. The app gives you a list of people you’ve been near recently—perhaps someone you walked past by or shared an elevator ride with—and then lets you decide if you like them.

How to use:

  • Find people who are or were recently nearby.
  • Press the heart if you like them.
  • If they liked you, too, you can start chatting with them. If the feeling isn’t reciprocated, they’ll never know that you once held a torch for them.

Badoo (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows

Launched in 2006, Badoo is a dating website that boasts 293 million members strong. Its Android app alone has been downloaded over 50 million times. Badoo finds people you recently bumped into through a fun game-like environment, making your soulmate-hunting a little less like a chore.

How to use:

  • Sign in through Facebook.
  • Check out people with similar interests nearby.
  • Play ‘Encounters’ to help you connect with possible matches.
  • Access ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Rise Up’ features through its premium paid service.

Skout (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

Skout is well ahead of the mobile dating game, having launched its iPhone app as early as 2008. Like in real-life dating/courting, Skout lets you send (digital) gifts to your date or friends. The app also features two separate and distinct communities for teens and adults to ensure the safety of its users.

How to use:

  • Log in and find other singletons within your vicinity.
  • Chat and exchange photos or notes with other Skout users; view profiles of your visitors.

Tinder (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

From quick dates to proper relationships, Tinder covers the whole spectrum with its fast, easy, and unobtrusive design. This dating app has hit big that it changed the landscape of mobile dating and made a mark on pop culture. Tinder gave new meaning to the phrase “swipe left,” and inspired coined terms such as “Tinderellas” and “Tinderfellas.”

How to use:

  • Connect through Facebook to create a profile
  • Anonymously scroll through potential matches nearby
  • Swipe right if you’re interested; swipe left if you’re not. If both users swiped right to each other’s profile, you get a match.
  • Start chatting up your match through the app.

OkCupid (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

OkCupid took the massive user base and straightforward dating tools of its website and applied it to its mobile app. This old reliable dating tool boasts a powerful user-matching system, which attracts computer algorithm geeks. OkCupid also offers in-person single event mixers—a good way to actually date people.

How to use:

  • Sign in from Facebook or set up a profile on the app.
  • Go to ‘Locals’ to find other users in your area.
  • Swipe right to like a profile; swipe left to take a pass. If it’s a mutual match, you will receive a notification email. You can then visit the profile of your match and send him/her a message.
  • Answer quizzes, save and rank profiles, and view visitors. Your match, friend, and enemy percentages are displayed on your profile photo.
  • Pay an additional fee if you want to view profiles anonymously.

Grindr (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

Despite being a very niche dating app, Grindr has earned notoriety all around the world. The app features a barebones design to its buffet of thumbnail-sized photos.

How to use:

  • Enter a username, upload photos, and answer a few simple questions to create a profile.
  • View 100 profiles of men within your surrounding area.
  • Chat with those who interest you.
  • Subscribe to the app’s premium service, Grindr Xtra, to get offline notifications and zero ads.

PlentyOfFish (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows

This virtual pond has plenty of fish in it. With over three million active users each day, you are more likely to get the most potential catches by the end of your search. PlentyOfFish combines OkCupid’s powerful matching algorithms with Tinder’s easy connections to find your perfect match.

How to use:

  • Search singles using the app’s filters, including education, height, and body type.
  • Browse through the result; choose yes, no, or maybe for every profile picture displayed and let the app sort it into lists.
  • Revisit the list or get the app’s suggestions of people who you’re most compatible with.

The ones that got away

There are all kinds of dating apps in the world, but never the same app twice. -Anonymous

01 Hinge (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

What if your future partner is a friend of a friend? It’s just that you haven’t been introduced yet. Hinge remedies your indefinite waiting by introducing you to people whom you have mutual Facebook friends with.

02 Hitch (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

Hitch lets your friends set up matches for you—talk about peer pressure! Your friend can pair you with another person through a built-in anonymous chat in the app. Initially, you get the age and gender of your match, as well as the mutual friend who set you up.

03 Match/Match Dating-Meet Singles (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

This one is an online dating veteran. Its Web counterpart,, is said to be the world’s biggest dating website. And with that notable title under its belt, Match tries to win big in the mobile dating sphere as well.

06 Bristlr (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

If you have a beard or are looking to meet people with beards, this mobile dating app is for you. Who cares if you’re single or taken, or looking for men or women?

04 HowAboutWe (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

How about we…have coffee, jog around the neighborhood, or go bar-hopping? Rather than flicking through profiles, HowAboutWe asks for your ideal first date and helps you find like-minded individuals. Its goal is simple: you meet and greet someone online, but go through the actual date offline.

05 Coffee Meets Bagel (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

The phrase “true love waits” has never been exemplified like this until Coffee Meets Bagel. The app gives you one bagel (your specially selected match) every day at noon. Within 24 hours, you need to decide whether you like your bagel or take a pass.

07 Bumble (Free)
Platforms: Android, iOS

Women take charge in this mobile dating app. Bumble follows a similar format as Tinder except that it’s the women who need to make the first move 24 hours after the match is made—that or the connection disappears forever. FOREVER.

With mobile devices, location-sensing apps, and tech-savvy hopeless romantics, the whole world has become a huge playground where you can swipe right for a date or a start of a long-term relationship. But in the end ultimately, in the words of Coelho: The heart decides, and what it decides is all that really matters.

Words Pat Calica
First published in Speed February 2016
Read more: Is it love—or science?