Free Hookup Apps: Are They Worth Your Time?
When it comes to finding love, or at least finding someone you’re interested in spending a weekend with, digital technology has really come into its own. Since the mid-1990s, online dating has revolutionized the way we make romantic connections. Of course, the digital dating landscape has become quite crowded since then, too.
While dating websites are still very popular, apps have made significant inroads here. You’ll even find both paid and free hookup apps – which is worth your time, though? Conventional wisdom says that you get what you pay for, so does that mean that free hookup apps don’t deliver? Is paying for a dating app a waste of time and money? How do they compare?
Paid vs. Free Hookup Apps
First, let’s address the assumption that free hookup apps are somehow “less” than paid dating apps. They’re really not. There is no gold standard in the industry, and you’ll find paid apps that are sadly lacking, and free apps that are chock-full of powerful features. You cannot simply look at an app as paid or free and decide that it’s worth your time based on no other criteria. There’s actually a lot more to consider.
Interestingly, more and more users are finding that free dating apps are actually just as functional as their paid-for cousins. It’s really more about what the app does and how it does it than it is about the amount of money you paid for the privilege of opening the app and creating an account. A survey by Consumer Reports back in 2016 actually found that user satisfaction was a little bit higher with consumers who used free dating sites and apps, rather than those that used paid sites and apps.
So, if the cost of the app isn’t really a consideration when comparing paid and free hookup apps, what are the key areas of comparison? Where should you focus in your evaluation of the app to determine which is right for your needs?
Functionality and Capabilities of Free Hookup Apps
One of the most important considerations, particularly with free hookup apps, is the functionality offered. If you need to pay to access critical functionality within the app, then it may not be the right option for you.
Let’s look at it this way. You discover a new dating app in the App Store. It looks great – it’s free, offers in-app purchases, and has some good reviews even though it’s relatively new. You decide to give it a trial run and download it. After taking the time to create your profile and add some pictures, you’re ready to go. However, here’s where you run into a problem.
Within just a day or so you’ve gotten several likes on your pictures, and even a few messages in your inbox. However, to access those messages and reply to them, you
need to pay a fee. Is it worth it? In this case, probably not. You should never have to pay for basic functionality and features that should be core offerings. You should only have to pay for upgrades and special features.
Think of it like a mobile game. Today, the vast majority of gaming apps have gone to an in-app purchase platform, rather than forcing players to buy the app outright in the beginning. In this scenario, access to the game’s core functionality is free for all players. Imagine how frustrating it would be to download a game, only to find out that you needed to pay to unlock your starting weapon, or to enter the starting board.
The same consideration applies with free hookup apps. Paying isn’t really the issue – you shouldn’t have to pay for access to core features, though. You should be able to create a profile at no cost, upload photos for no charge, and message or reply to the messages of others without having to pay a fee. You should only have to pay for special features, upgraded access to tools, and additional capabilities that build on core features.
If you keep those tips in mind, you can begin comparing free hookup apps to find the one that works best for you. Of course, there’s a lot you’ll need to know about those areas, too, which we’ll begin discussing next.
Potential User Base of Free Hookup Apps
When it comes to comparing the free hookup apps out there, you need to base your decision to download and use a particular app on several key areas. One of those is the app’s user base. How big is it? Where are users primarily located in geographic terms? What’s the age range of users? How sure are you that most of those users are real people and not bots?
Size: The size of a dating app’s user base is of critical consideration. Simply put, the more active users there are, the more likely you are to find a match, and the less competition you’ll face. The smaller the user base, the less chance you have of finding a match, and the more competition you’ll face.
In addition to the actual number of users, you’ll need to think about things like the number of male users to female users, the number of users looking for the same type of relationship as you, and much more. Thankfully, free hookup apps generally tend to have far larger user bases than paid sites, particularly when you factor in niche, focus, geography and other factors that affect those numbers.
Location: For many free hookup apps and dating sites, this is not an issue. They attract users from all over the place, and they don’t really have a specific geographic area where users are heavily concentrated. However, for some, that’s not the case. You’ll find that some dating apps are very popular with people within a specific area (Blinq is primarily Swiss, for instance). Others focus on attracting an audience from across the nation, but might have very few users in your immediate area.
Age: The age range of the app’s user base is of critical importance. Most apps have a younger user base, generally ranging from 18 to 30 or so. Of course, some of the more established apps have broken this trend and have grown the number of users over the age of 30, but that’s not the case for all of them. If you’re a younger user, this isn’t really a problem. However, for those over the age of 30 looking for someone to date, or for a weekend fling, it can be a daunting prospect. Verify the percentage of users within the age range that interests you.
Bot/Not Bot: First and foremost, understand that there’s no way you can look at an app’s user base and determine which accounts are bots and which accounts are real people. Sure, some are obviously bots, but technology is getting more sophisticated by the day, and some fake accounts look completely genuine. The real consideration here is the technology used to weed out bots. For instance, Hily uses a unique verification process that is designed to reduce spam/fake/bot accounts, and it seems to have worked to at least some degree.
User Experience of Free Hookup Apps
Really, when it comes down to choosing whether to use a paid app or one of the growing number of free hookup apps, the primary consideration you’ll need to make is user experience. The average user experience includes a wide range of factors, from satisfaction with the user base to the ability to avoid bots to the quality of core (free) functionality available to them. User experience is generally explained in ratings and reviews, but you need to be careful here.
Paid reviews and ratings are real – they exist, and they’re anything but impartial. Unscrupulous companies use them to pad their ratings and to transform what might be a middle of the road reputation, or even a negative one, into something more positive in an effort to bring in more users. Don’t fall for that. Make sure that any reviews you read are written by real people and are not what basically amounts to paid for ads.
Of course, when you find genuine user reviews, you need to know what information to look for. What elements of a review might tell you whether free hookup apps are worth your time and effort?
Obviously, there’s a lot of subjectivity in any review. One person might consider an experience optimum, while another would find it lacking – that’s normal and it’s due to different expectations, experiences, desires and goals. However, there are a few things that you should look for when comparing user reviews of free hookup apps before you decide on the app or apps that you’ll start using. We’ll discuss those below.
When it comes to choosing between free hookup apps, you need to do more than just look at the user base size and makeup. You need to consider a number of core items.
- Niche: Does the hookup app you’re considering have a particular niche that you want to target? For instance, The League is all about being super picky, while Raya is for the most elite of the elite. On the other hand, Bumble puts women in control, as does Coffee Meets Bagel to an extent. You’ll find a host of other niches, too, from completing tasks together (How About We) to dog lovers (Tin Dog), to hooking up with friends (Down), and a great deal more. Is the niche something that interests you? Is there more than one app that allows you to enter that niche? If not, then your decision is made for you. If there are multiple apps, then you should conduct a more side-by-side comparison of your options.
- Messaging: Few things are more important than messaging. After all, that’s how you get in touch with your matches through the hookup app. How easy is it to message those that you’re interested in? Are you limited to a specific number of messages per day? Are you able to message matches, or do you need to wait for them to like your photo or profile first? Is there a cost involved with messaging? You also need to consider the protections put in place here – what safeguards are available to protect you from stalkers and harassment?
- Matching Method: What is the matching method used by the app you’re considering? Some free hookup apps don’t really have much of a matching method – they put it all in the users’ hands (quite literally). For instance, Tinder is infamous for this. However, other apps like Match and eHarmony have robust algorithms designed to help you find the perfect match. You’ll find that matching technology becomes more complex with apps that focus on long-term relationships, and less complex with apps that focus on short-term relationships. Make sure you know what the matching method is and how it works, though.
- USP: The USP, or unique selling proposition, is what the app does that is special. Part of that is tied into niche. For instance, Down lets you ask out friends and acquaintances, or tell them flat out that you want to sleep with them. However, USP transcends niche in many ways. Hapn, for instance, has a USP of connecting you with people you pass on the street every day and relies on geographic location and tracking technology to make those matches. The app’s niche, on the other hand, is local dating.
In the end, free hookup apps can be powerful tools that help you find that special someone, whether you’re looking for companionship for the weekend, or a life partner. They’re well worth your time. However, like paid dating apps, free hookup apps vary greatly in terms of functionality and features, usability, user base composition and more. While user satisfaction is generally higher with free dating apps, it’s still important that you make an informed comparison of your options to find the right app for your particular desires.