Online dating has been a thing since Match.com debuted back in the mid-1990s. Since then, countless other dating sites have been developed, but the digital dating industry truly came into its own with the rise of hookup apps. Today, you’ll find a number of contenders within the category of hookup apps, including standalone apps like Tinder, as well as branded apps tied to traditional dating sites like eHarmony and Match.
Dating apps offer a lot of benefits:
- They’re streamlined and simpler to use than websites.
- They’re faster to access than websites.
- They’re far more portable than websites, as they run on your smartphone or tablet.
- They can provide a host of features that aren’t available through a website.
Of course, not all hookup apps are worth your time or your money. You’ll find that they can vary greatly in a very wide range of ways. Making a smart decision here is important to save yourself time, money and even heartache down the road. What should you know? Let’s explore the topic in greater depth and help you learn how to tell the best dating apps on the market.
Why Do the Hookup Apps Differ?
Before we get too far into the discussion, it’s important to talk about why these apps can vary so drastically from one another. Aren’t they essentially all about the same thing? Well, that might seem to be true, but it’s really not. Hookup apps vary in terms of features and functionality largely due to the audience they’re designed to attract, and what that audience wants out of the app.
For instance, someone using Tinder would have different goals than someone using eHarmony’s app. Someone using Bumble would have very different needs to someone using OKCupid. The features and functions of each app are supposed to be designed to mesh with the specific usage needs and relationship goals of the audience.
What Are Some Common Differences in the Hookup Apps?
What are some of the more common differences between dating apps on the market? There are actually quite a few of them. Some of the most common include the following:
- Primary demographic age
- Gender focus
- Relationship type focus (niche)
- Primary type of user focus
- Level of information protection desired
- Length/type of relationship being sought
- How choosy/picky the user base might be
- Affluence of the targeted user base
- Sexuality of the targeted user base
Those are just a fraction of the differences in the hookup apps out there. Need some real-world examples tied to those differences? Grindr is a dating app designed for men seeking men, while Cuddli is designed for fandoms. The League is designed for career-oriented people, while eHarmony is designed for folks looking for marriage material. Zoosk is best for those who are worried about protecting themselves from fraud and scams, and Bumble is designed for women who want to take control over their love lives.
As you can imagine, each of those apps differs greatly in terms of functionality and features. Tinder pioneered the “swipe” left or right, and many apps have followed suit. Coffee Meets Bagel focuses on videos that vanish after a day. Tastebuds lets you set a favorite musical track with your profile, which ties into the app’s hook of helping users connect with others based on musical tastes. What are some of the most interesting features out there today that can make using the hookup apps simpler and easier? Which are “make or break” and which can be ignored?
Current Features to Consider in the Hookup Apps
There’s really no one-size-fits-all hookup app, or even set of features. Your mileage will vary depending on many different factors, ranging from the signal strength in your area or your Wi-Fi speed to the level of familiarity with technology to your comfort with sending photos and video of yourself to complete strangers. However, there are some important features that are more popular and that you should know about as you get into the dating app market. In this section, we’ll detail what those are, how they bring value to you, and more.
Swipe: We’ll start with swiping. It was pioneered by Tinder back in 2012, and has been copied by a number of other dating apps since that time. Swiping seems a bit callous at first glance, and it really is, since you’re choosing to like or dislike someone based strictly on their personal appearance.
However, that has connections to our natural behavior as human beings. You’re much more likely to be interested in someone you meet in real life if you feel a physical attraction to them initially. That allows time for you to get to know (and hopefully like) other things about them, such as their personality, their religious beliefs or lack thereof, their hobbies, and more.
Swiping is essentially saying yes or no to getting to know the other person better, and it helps to winnow down your list of options more quickly. However, emerging research shows that men are much more likely to swipe right (or to say yes) to just about any woman than a woman is to a man. This leads to a match disparity – men are much,
much less likely to find a match through these sorts of hookup apps than a woman is, simply because female users seem to be much pickier about who they choose.
Honest First Impression: Too many of the hookup apps out there can give users a misleading first impression of their potential connections. This is largely due to the fact that these apps are text and photo oriented. When you view someone’s profile, you will likely see a headshot, and then be able to read about their interests, hobbies, education and more.
The problem here is that it can be very difficult to get an accurate first impression of someone based on nothing but a profile picture, some basic information, and maybe a few text chats. This means that you really won’t be able to get a good first impression of the other person until you meet face to face, and that could be weeks after initially connecting with them online. Many of the hookup apps out there are working to provide their users with a workaround for this.
Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the most obvious, as the app focuses on eight-second videos rather than traditional profiles. This can give users a much better idea of what the other person is like in real life than would be possible with a basic headshot and some biographic information. Other apps taking a similar stance include Hinge and Lively, both of which feature video profiles.
However, Coffee Meets Bagel takes things quite a bit farther. The app has a series of daily questions that users answer in the form of videos. Watching these videos not only gives insight into the user’s character, likes and dislikes, but into the nuances of their personality.
Power Move: The League has made waves as one of the hookup apps for those focusing on their careers, but it goes much deeper than that. Users must already have not just the League app, but also Facebook and LinkedIn.
On top of that, there’s a unique algorithm that powers the app, which ensures you only get five matches per day, two of which are mutual “hearted” likes. This creates a backlog of likes/hearts – if a person had 20 hearted likes already, and you hearted them, it would be over four days before they saw your like.
However, they have introduced another feature called “power move” that allows users to jump ahead of the line for a nominal fee. For a payment of $7, you can jump ahead of most everyone else and show up in the next batch of hearts, shown within just 24 hours. While that is an additional cost, it does allow people interested in one specific person to ensure they’re able to be front and center. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the object of your interest will return that interest, but there’s no harm in making sure you’re up front, either.
Geotargeting: Geotargeting technology is important in many different industries, and it’s no stranger to the dating industry. After all, plenty of the hookup apps allow you to
see where your love interests are located on a map. However, Happn takes things a bit farther.
This app allows you to see where you and a potential connection pass each other in real life. It highlights where you’ve traveled in the past that matches up to the person you’re interested in speaking to. This can be valuable for a number of reasons. Obviously, it proves that they are local and that they get out and about in the community, but it can back up claims about shared interests, hobbies, shopping preferences, and more.
Happn also offers a unique voice messaging feature that allows users to leave one-minute messages for one another, which can make communicating in person when you actually do meet face-to-face more comfortable.
These are just a few of the interesting features and capabilities offered by the hookup apps. There’s more coming down the pipe, too.
Emerging Technology for the Hookup Apps
Emerging technology is set to radically transform the online dating experience in a wide range of ways. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the technologies you might expect to see in the future from the best hookup apps on the market.
Livestreaming – Livestreaming is set to be one of the most impactful features for dating apps. It’s already been used by social media sites, and video is starting to play a larger role in dating apps, as well. BumbleVID is an excellent example of how this might work – it features 10-second videos posted to user profiles. Of course, livestreaming functionality will depend largely on the underlying platform in question.
More Geotargeting – While Happn’s foray into geotargeting is very interesting, it won’t be for alone long. Look for more and more dating apps to get in on the act. In fact, Match has already launched a similar feature, and Coffee Meets Bagel is now able to suggest local destinations for your first in-person meetup based on geotargeted information.
AI Help – Think that new photo really shows off your best side? In the future, you’ll be able to get some help with choosing which photos to show off on your dating app profile thanks to advanced artificial intelligence and new algorithms. Blinq (a dating app for the Swiss) currently offers something similar, but look for this technology to become more widespread (and your photo gallery to become better arranged).
Improved Security – If there’s one area where many of the hookup apps fall short, it is in protecting your information. Tinder is one of the worst offenders, and does not offer even basic encryption to safeguard your personal information on the company’s servers. In the future, this will not be the case. Well, it won’t be quite so widespread, at
any rate. Look for more and more companies to encrypt your information and actions while in their ecosystems.
As you can see, there are quite a few interesting features available in today’s hookup apps. However, there’s as much or more coming in the future with updates, and newly designed and developed apps. Of course, knowing what features are available does not really help you decide which apps are best for you. In that instance, you really need to know what you want – a brief fling? The chance to play the field? A long-term relationship? Someone else interested in marriage? Know what you want, and then find an app that’s tailored to help you get it.