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Best dating apps for Android and iPhone

For about about a third of the British population, single is on the rise and being on your lonesome never feels more acute than when Valentine’s Day rears its garish, sparkily head, underscoring your singledom. If you’re unattached and wouldn’t mind trying your hand at a bit of mobile dating, then join us as we compare three top dating apps for Android and iOS.

OkCupid: Android and iOS


 

On the web: www.OkCupid.com

Who’s it for?

If you’re looking for conversation, chilled banter and are happy to invest a bit of time setting up your profile OkCupid could be just the ticket.

Set up time:

20-30 mins.

Initially, the standard profile set-up involves a self-summary and a few prompted questions so you don’t have to think too hard: “I’m really good at”, “On a typical Friday night I am”, “You should message me if”.

After this, a broad set of multiple choice questions ensues and with this, OkCupid does a really good job of identifying specific aspects of your personality. Asking you questions as benign as “Cats or dogs?” right through to “For you personally, is abortion an option in case of an accidental pregnancy”, it does a thorough job of really getting tothe nitty gritty of what makes you you, and is on occasions challenging which is always nice. You can choose to make your answers public or private.

What next?

Even if you make your answers private, the time you spend setting up isn’t wasted, oh no. Every potential love interest you see has two percentages next to their name indicating how compatible you are based on your answers – the first as a lover, and the second as a friend.

With no home screen as such, wherever you are in the app, there is a menu button on the bottom left hand corner, along with a notification icon if you have messages. Pull up the menu and you’re given a shortcut to your matches, local love interests, settings and other features of the app. With OkCupid being completely free you can browse away upon creating a profile and send messages out as and when you choose, look over sent messages and even see who’s been visiting your profile.

 

If you’re not quite ready to message someone, you can add them toyour favourites. Not so you can stalk them, but so they know you’re interested. And if you’re really bad with choices and can’t select from the sea of singletons – Let OkCupid decide for you. With something called “Quiver matches”, OkCupid selects three people it thinks are worth your words. You can decline a quiver match to then generate another after an hour or so.

Finally, you can broadcast a message. This gives you 5 minutes of fame and lets people know your availibility and suggests places in the area to meet.

What did we think?

OkCupid really impressed us with its charming visuals, challenging questions and easy to understand compatibility ratings. The lack of home screen means that navigating around the app can be a tad confusing, however, the caliber of the app, not to mention the singles on OkCupid make up for it. Vetting out people who can’t be bothered to set up a profile, almost everyone we came in contact with was literate, witty and courteous.

How long did it take for us to get a date?

2 days and a good date at that.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Plenty Of Fish: Android and iOS


 

On the web: www.pof.com/

Who’s it for?

If you’re after a dating app a bit more likely to score you something casual, then you may want to check out Plenty of Fish.

Set up time:

15-20 mins

Unlike OkCupid, setting up a Plenty of Fish account has to be done through a web browser and is also a much more intrusive process. With obligatory fields including your salary, date of birth and postcode, not everyone will feel comfortable with setting up a Plenty of Fish account. After you bare your credentials, it’s time to bare your soul with a lengthy multiple choice psychometric test.

What next?

After we received our psychometric test results in our inbox telling us how self-assured and wonderful we are, we went along in a chipper mind-frame expecting to find a deep, meaningful connections in the single sea that is Plenty of Fish.

The home screen is from the offset much simpler and more old school than OkCupid. With an easy to navigate grid, you can access pretty much the entire app from it – inbox, sent items, search, etc. There is also a horizontal scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen with a stream of potential love matches.

Also free, you can start sending messages on Plenty of Fish as soon as you finish the sign up process. Just tap a profile you like, scan through their blurb, view their images and decide whether or not it’s time to put your heart on the line. If you want a hand, there’s a “My Matches” section which shows an array of potentials and a “Mobile Users” section that indicates mobile users and their proximity to you.

What did we think?

Without the charming questions or tight front-end experience of OkCupid, Plenty of Fish didn’t leave us feeling as challenged or optimistic after the sign up process. It also meant that many of the profiles didn’t feel as thought through. In addition, despite wading through the app, we couldn’t find any evidence for the lengthy psychometric test we took at the beginning used in matching us with other like minded lovers. Additionally, a we saw matches outside London, something that put us off following them up from the offset.

One thing we will say, the messages we got were a little more … suggestive than the other apps. Whether this is representative of Plenty of Fish on the whole is difficult to say, but if you’re thinking you’re after a Christmas cracker rather than slow roast turkey, give Plenty of Fish ago and let use know what you think.

How long did it take us to get a date?

We didn’t. Unfortunately, for this eligible tech-writer about town, despite Plenty of Fish, not one took the bait.

Rating: 3/5

 

Blendr: iOS


 

On the web: apps.facebook.com/blendrapp/

Who’s it’s for?

Time-poor, on the go, travellers in foreign lands. Not exclusively a dating app, this is also a great way to meet friends who share similar interests and is also the only one that uses real-time chat, not a messaging system so might be better suited to those who hate the wait.

Set up time:

5-10 mins

Without any of the lengthy questions we see in the other apps, Blendr is the perfect app if you’re short on time and want to pick up your iPhone and quickly per…use through a grid of locals into similar stuff. What’s cool about Blendr’s set up is that it takes into account hobbies and interests and matches this information against proximity. The result is people near you into similar stuff.

What next?

The home screen consists of a grid of poised mug shots, about 4×4. Each face has a username and online status. If the user is online, a green dot is by their name, if offline, an orange dot. Tap on a profile and you can see one picture per users, their interests, a few stats and the option to message, favourite, block or report the user.

The main grid has multiple views: Interest, Everyone, Favourites, Nearby and Recent. These are pretty self explanatory, with all displayed in order of proximity.

Blender’s focus seems to be less on dating and more on socialising in general. The inclusion of keywords (hobbies and interests) opens you up to friendship more easily than the other apps do, though you can see who’s single, who’s partnered up and who’s looking for what clearly in people’s profiles if some winter romance is what you’ve got in mind.

To further personalise your experience and make it a bit more dating-centric, you can even set parameters so that, say, only males, aged 20-35 with shared interests appear on your grid, so it really is what you make of it.

What did we think?

Blendr surprised us. Despite coming from the same guys who brought us Grindr, an app which has received a pretty sordid reputation after a guest appearance alongside Stephen Fry on Top Gear, Blendr has the potential to be wholly innocent. We spoke with people of all genders about things ranging from cameras through to waffles. If we were new to London and wanted to make friends, we could think of worse ways. To add to this, there is also a Facebook Blendr app, so if you’re sick of mobile Qwertys, you can enjoy full screen flirting.

How long did it take us to get a date?

We scored coffee with someone nearby after a few hours. Nothing romantic, but with overlapping hobbies aplenty, thanks to Blendr, we may well have scored a chum with whom to drown our festive blues or indeed, celebrate the up-side to single.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wrapping up

If it’s a meaningful message you’re after, then it looks like OkCupid comes out on top. For something more spontaneous, you can’t beat Blendr’s instant message chat integration coupled with the hobby matching system and Facebook app. Finally, despite being our least favourite app overall, Plenty of Fish offers the simplest interface should the others prove over-complicated.


Originally posted December 2011

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