Fall in love online

By Kirstin Buick
25 December 2014

Feeling romantic? There’s an app for that – plenty in fact! We showcase some of the more popular dating platforms.

It's that time of year again when smug marrieds and other snug couples the world over make singletons want to slap them. But you don’t have to be alone this summer – the dating game has changed with the availability of a new generation of dating apps.

Smartphone users can now look for love during their lunch break, a traffic jam or while standing in a queue to buy their dinner for one. Unlike those somewhat dodgy-looking websites of the early ’90s the new way of finding love online is safer, slicker and more sophisticated. It’s also much less work because it draws on your existing social networks to create your profile. Most of this new generation of ways to find love online link up to your Facebook profile – fortunately without announcing it to your friends! – and sync the app to your public profile pictures, public information such as interests and pages you’ve liked, and your (general) location. Location is important – a few seconds after you’re synced you can start searching within your area for potential love matches. You’ll be asked whether you’re interested in a match. If it’s yes, you can connect and if no, you swipe to find your next possible The One. With apps such as these, meeting your soulmate – or someone with whom you can have a little fun – is just a few swipes away. We take a look at a few of the most popular ones.

Tinder

5

Free on iOS and Android

Tinder, the world’s fastest- growing, locationbased cellphone dating app, has been making waves overseas for some time and the ripples have finally reached local shores. More and more South Africans are logging in. You’re given access to the full app upfront – there are no “premium” features or a limited number of profile views a day. Once you’re hooked up via Facebook – don’t worry, this app really won’t post anything on your behalf – you can play around with your pictures and write a short bio. It’s quick and easy but not great for those who want to let their sparkling personality shine through in long personal profiles. This is for people who want to get through things quickly. From the get-go you can start swiping through potential matches. You swipe right if  you’re interested and swipe left if you’re not. If you and another user both “like” each other you’ll have a match and then be able to chat on the app.

Zoosk

2 Free on iOS and Android (premium content costs extra)

Zoosk was a dating website that connected via Facebook but has since added an app to its arsenal. With the smartphone and tablet app you swipe through users’ profiles, which are a little more detailed than those on Tinder, and can “add” them or “wink” at them. The Carousel feature allows you to browse through users and indicate whether you want to meet them with a “yes”, “no” or “maybe”. The interface is fun and easy to navigate but there are many hidden costs on this app. You’ll need “coins” to do certain things – such as sending a longer or more than one message to a particular person, or connecting with people who view your profile. You can earn these coins doing various things – liking Zoosk on Facebook, for instance. Or you could buy something from one of its many partners – for example if you download an antivirus program from one of its software partners, you earn coins. Otherwise you can subscribe to the app’s premium content at R579,99 for six months.

OK Cupid

3 Free on iOS and Android

OK Cupid is another dating site that graduated to an app. When signing up you upload a picture, write a short self-summary then start to browse through users in your area. With the app’s Quickmatch feature you can scroll through users, swiping right to “like” or left to “pass” – but the app  doesn’t require you to mutually like each other to chat. You can create quite a detailed profile and answer a string of questions about life and relationships. The app uses these answers to connect you with like-minded matches. The more questions you answer, the more visible or  likely you are to show up on other users’ feeds.

AYI

4 Free on iOS and Android (premium content costs extra)

Ayi (which stands for “are you interested”) also pulls information through from your Facebook profile (unless you opt to register with an email address) but is more customisable than, say, Tinder. You can put together a complete profile for other users to browse, from your height to your ideas for a great date. Users can select “yes” or “skip” while browsing through profiles. Unlike Tinder, Ayi isn’t exclusively an app – it syncs to Facebook and other websites. The app will send you Facebook notifications when someone is interested in you – and vice versa. There’s no anonymously liking someone with Ayi . Access to all Ayi ’s features – including unlocking all messages and seeing who views your profile – costs R680,99 for 6 months.

Blendr

1

Free on iOS and Android

Users can connect to Blendr using Facebook or their email account to create a profile that includes pictures, what they’re looking for and the  usual dating-site profile options (about me, height, body type, interests, education). Once you’re in, you set your filter – what you’re looking for (to make new friends, to chat or to date), with whom (guy, girl or both), what age group and which area you’re in. Users can use the People Nearby function, which displays thumbnails in your area, or the Encounters feature to sift through profiles.When viewing another user, you can choose “yes”, “no” or “maybe”. If you’re feeling adventurous, Blendr offers anonymous chatting, which allows users to chat to someone without initially seeing each other’s profiles. The app also offers profile verification, which requires users to do two of these: sync their Facebook profile, provide their cell number or activate Blendr Super Powers (which is essentially the paid-for service, at R189,99 for three months). With Super Powers activated, users can see who voted yes to them in Encounters, who “favourited” their profile, and bump their messages up to the top of people’s inboxes.

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