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It has been quite some time since we have enjoyed a casual encounter with another person at a bar, party, or event.
Whether you're looking for a long-term relationship or a quick booty call, there's a dating app out there for everyone. From the hyper-specific—FarmersOnly, JDate, 3Fun—to the general ones we review here, which cast a wider net, what do you need to know to find the love of your life…or just your love for the night? Bars, nightclubs, and other traditional meeting places may be starting to reopen, but how safe are they?
Dating sites and apps are the way to go these days, with new services cropping up all the time. A dating app that only works on Thursday? What a concept! Many even have special video services they've introduced specifically to deal with dating in a post-COVID world, as we'll explain later. With so many choices, how can you find your perfect, loving match? The first thing you need to decide is your commitment level. As in, how much do you want to pay to make your heart go pitter-patter?
Some apps, like Plenty of Fish, let you view profiles and send messages for free. Most of the others let you view your potential matches without charging, but they make you pony up and subscribe if you want to actually reach out to them without limits—especially if the interest is one-sided. You're not afraid of commitment, are you? Then there are all the add-ons.
Options—letting you pay to boost your ranking in searchletting someone know that you are really, really interested in him or her or them, or undoing a dreaded left-swipe that was supposed to be a right-swipe—will cost you extra. While some apps may advertise themselves as free, all of them try to get a buck from you in the end. When it comes down to actually putting yourself out there and creating a profile, all apps ask for the basics: name, age, location, a photo, a short blurb about yourself, and usually if you can stand a person who smokes.
Beyond that, it can be a bit of a crapshoot. Some apps, like Tinder, value Top casual dating apps over personality. Others, like eharmony, make you fill out an endless questionnaire before you can even think about browsing for your match.
Still others, like Zoosk, ask so little that you're left to wonder what's being used to actually match you with like-minded love-seekers. If you don't fall into the cis-hetero dating pool, you'll be happy to know that most of the apps reviewed here are inclusive. Even eharmony now finally allows for same-gender couples.
For example, OkCupid goes beyond forcing users to choose between being a male or female, including options like Hijra, genderfluid, and two-spirit. Other apps target identities beyond gender and sexuality. For example, Kippo's nerd-friendly features attracts gamers, while SilverSingles reskins EliteSingles for a senior audience.
Once you pick that perfect selfie and write paragraphs to sell all your best attributes to your future mate, it's time to start browsing. This is where the big differences between these apps are apparent. For instance, Tinder, with its famous hot-or-not swiping interface, makes it quick and easy to find your next date. Bumble, on the other hand, puts all the power in women's hands; men can't even contact a woman unless she's first expressed interest. Others, like Match and OkCupid, have robust profiles that let you dive deep into a user's personality or at least the one he or she has decided to present to youbefore you decide to go on the pursuit.
Hinge lets users create profiles that are a beautiful blend of visuals and text. Now that you've perused the dating pool and have your eyes on that special someone, it's time to bite the bullet and actually reach out to them. Each app offers different ways of showing your interest.
Match will let you Wink at a fellow member for free, and Plenty of Fish doesn't charge for messaging. In most dating apps, messaging is typically free when both users like each other. However, free users only get so many likes per day, with Hinge being especially limited.
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In other instances, you'll get charged for reaching out. Zoosk offers the slightly creepy option of buying coins to anonymously browse profiles, as well as reward anyone who views your own profile for an additional fee, of course.
As this isall of these services, even the decades-old Match, offer both iPhone apps and Android apps. Most also have desktop counterparts for when you're at work and want to take a break from your spreheet to set up a weekend tryst. Just be aware that the functionality can vary substantially between the app and desktop interfaces.
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For example, there's no swiping on Tinder's browser version. Facebook Dating and Hinge are only available as mobile apps. Once you've installed these apps and ed up for the services, get ready for a barrage of notifications and. Some, like daily match suggestions, are helpful, while others, like alerts that tell you every new "like" you get, can just be annoying.
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The good thing is you can easily tweak these alerts by drilling down into the settings menus in each of the apps. Any activity that involves meeting strangers from the internet carries some safety risks. These services try to vet their profiles and keep unwanted inappropriate material from appearing. Bumble blurs nudes with AI. There are even third-party solutions.
15 best dating sites and apps in list of the top online dating platforms by type
UrSafe is a hands-free, voice-activated personal safety app with features for online daters who are looking to meet up with their matches in-person. Not having to use your hands is especially appealing during a viral pandemic, which brings us to our next section.
Ideally, online dating should lead to meeting up in real life. Fairytraila dating app for connecting via shared travel destination dreams, has seen a bittersweet increase in use.
The most straightforward virtual dating solution is video chatting, which lets you at least see each other face to face instead of just texting. Bumble, eharmony, Match, and Plenty of Fish all offer video chat. Apps with more specific target audiences are also adopting this feature, including the mobile-only Muslim dating app Muzmatch.
Snack introduces TikTok-style video functionality to dating profiles. Even apps without video chat acknowledge the crisis in their own way, though.
Hinge lets users set up a video chat, just on a different app. Tinder lets you match with college classmates or people in other countries for free for a limited time. Facebook Dating users can choose to use other Facebook communications apps such as Messenger or the experimental Tuned, an app specifically for quarantined couples. Dating is hard work, so we did some of the legwork for you by taking a deep dive into 10 of the most popular apps.
You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time. Even after testing seven dating apps for PCMag, Karl Klockars remains happily married to his wonderfully understanding and awesome wife, Nora, and lives in Chicago. He is the author of Beer Lovers Chicago, runs the guysdrinkingbeer.
PCMag editors select and review products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions, which help support our testing. Learn more. Updated April 27, Copy Link. Our 10 Top Picks. Best for Long-Term Relationships. With its easy-to-use interface and detail-rich profiles, Match makes it clear why it's one of the most enduring dating apps. This is the service to try if you're looking for long-term love. Pros Robust, vetted profiles. Cons Expensive. Best for Casual Dating. Visit Site. Tinder is the fun, easy-to-use dating app if you want to have a good time…right now.
Pros Simple, modern interface. Cons Geared more toward hookups than relationships. Best for Woman-First Dating. Bumble is the dating app for women who want to be empowered, and men who want to let women make the first move.
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Pros Excellent privacy and safety features. Cons Profiles less meaty than other apps'. Best for Beautiful Profiles. Hinge lets users build beautiful profiles and gives them fun, flirty ways to interact with each other. Pros Robust profiles.