Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Now that Tinder is charging for its services, it might be time to turn to one of the many other dating apps available.
Since its 2012 launch, Tinder has quickly become one of the most popular forms of online dating. Its simplicity has been part of what makes it so attractive to its users – using geolocation, the app shows users profiles of their preferred gender and age-range within a set geographical area. Profiles consist only of a first name, an age, a 500-character description, and up to six photos. If the user likes a profile they “swipe right” and if they don’t, they “swipe left”. The app only allows users to exchange messages if two users match by both swiping right on each other. This formula has been incredibly successful — with over 50 million users, Tinder has become a serious contender in the online dating world.
However, many online daters have some issues with Tinder’s approach to romance. The focus that Tinder places on appearances has meant that the app has gained a reputation for being a “hook-up” app. While there are definitely stories about people meeting their significant others on Tinder, those stories tend to be the exception rather than the rule! As well, Tinder’s messaging system is far from advanced, the majority of its users are college students, and the app isn’t as secure as you might want something connected to your Facebook account to be.
Until recently, one of the biggest draws to Tinder was that it was completely free. However, its most recent update included features (such as the ability to view profiles of individuals who aren’t in your local area or undo an accidental swipe) that can only be accessed by a monthly subscription fee to an upgraded version of Tinder called TinderPlus. Now Tinder also limits the previously unlimited number of right swipes that you can make in a set time period unless you pay the monthly fee. These new features are intriguing (and I’ve definitely found myself wishing for a chance to take back an accidental left swipe!), but with a sticker price of $11.99 a month, TinderPlus is definitely outside the budget of most of its users.
Even for devoted Tinder users, this update has been a bit of a disillusionment and many are now looking for an app to take its place. I spent some time this week doing some research (sadly, none of which ended in a date) on the best free alternatives to Tinder currently on the market – the classics, the copy-cats, the creative, and the crazy – because at some point, we’re all going to run out of right swipes and need another app to turn to!
When it comes to online dating, there is a lot of comfort and success in choosing apps that are already popular (unsurprisingly, dating apps without a lot of users tend to not work very well). These apps are classic choices for those interested in online dating, and many of them have been around since the pre-app age of online dating. Even though everyone knows about these apps, they’re still worth considering. This is especially true since recent updates have made the apps more intuitive, more interactive, and more open to different dating preferences.
Plenty of Fish (Android/iOS): Plenty of Fish offers a lot of different features. You browse matches through a variety of different algorithms (including “my matches”; “locals”; “ultra match”; or “meet me”), and can choose to view their profiles, send messages, or hit a non-committal “meet them” button. These features provide you with a lot of different options when choosing how to interact with others online, but the several different kinds of notifications can also become confusing!
Ok Cupid (Android/iOS): Ok Cupid’s algorithms make it one of the best online dating platforms available. In addition to this, Ok Cupid has a much more streamlined design than Plenty of Fish, while still offering more options for connecting with potential matches than Tinder does. The “Quickmatch” function is a swipe-based matching system, but other matches (determined based on your answers to quick yes/no questions) are ranked by their compatibility to you. From your list of matches, you are able to browse others’ profiles and send messages to the people that interest you.
It was actually mind-boggling how many of the different apps I downloaded had a design similar to Tinder’s, complete with swipe right/swipe left directions. In fact, even the classic apps often had an option to do this kind of matching with others! These copycat apps follow Tinder’s design almost exactly, but with a twist or two to make them unique.
Bumble (iOS only): Bumble was actually created by an employee of Tinder after she left the company, and was created with an intent to discourage gender issues in online dating. Bumble includes almost all of the same features as Tinder, but has two key differences – women are the only ones who can message a match first, and if they don’t message within twenty-four hours of matching the match disappears. Bumble has only been available for four months at this point, but these functions have made it incredibly popular with women, as women’s experiences with online dating are often quite different from those of men.
Badoo (Android/iOS): Badoo also essentially functions the same as Tinder, but gives a little more biographical information than Tinder’s allotted 500 characters. Badoo has places for users to list their interests and demographic information, as well as a space on their profile dedicated to awards that can be won by being active on the app. As well, you can access people’s profiles without matching with them, and leave a “like” on the profiles that spark your interest. I did find that the interface for this app was more confusing than most of the others on this list – sometimes I would end up on a page without being entirely sure how I got there.
These apps put their own spin on the idea of mobile dating, as both focus on the importance of an eventual in-person connection rather than online messaging. These apps may not be super popular yet, but apps like these (ones that use mobile platforms to facilitate in-person connections) could easily end up being the future of online dating.
How About We (Android/iOS [No Longer Available]): How About We cuts right to the first date, whatever your ideal first date may be. Users fill out a suggestion for a date that they would like to go on, and are then able to browse other date ideas from people nearby. This is a fun way of keeping online dating focused on the people around you, and is a creative way to express your personality without filling out a questionnaire. Best of all, you know that whether or not you like the person you meet up with, you are sure to enjoy the activity that you have planned!
Happn (Android/iOS): Happn walks the line between really cool and really creepy. It connects to your Facebook profile, and then uses GPS tracking to show you the profile of other users of the app that you cross paths with over the course of your everyday life. These features makes Happn a really great way to know whether or not your cute barista is also into you, but I’ll admit that it does run a few more security risks than your average dating app.
Salad Match (iOS only): Okay, this was definitely my favourite app that I discovered this week. Essentially, a salad restaurant chain created their own dating app. After you connect the app to your Facebook and answer a few questions about your ideal salad, it then offers you a chance to find your ideal man or woman through tinder-style swiping. All of this so that you can… share your salad with them? I guess? I’m still not entirely sure what the point of this app is, and the restaurants are only located in NYC, New Jersey, Hong Kong, and Dubai, but I’m spreading awareness of it in hope that there’s someone out there who will someday explain to their grandchildren that this app is how they met the love of their life.
What is Your Go-to Online Dating App?
There are so many options available for dating apps that I filled an entire screen of my iPhone with different options for review! Whether you are looking for a gamer dating site, an app that matches you exclusively to those within a specific socioeconomic status, or want an app that can dial someone’s voicemail, let me assure you – there is an app out there for you (I’ve seen them). It will be interesting to see over the next few months whether Tinder’s decision to become a paid service will result in a decrease of active users, or if it will continue to be one of the most popular forms of online dating available. For those who do continue to use Tinder, the time of absentmindedly swiping is done, and it will be important to follow the same rules for online dating that are commonplace on most other platforms.
What is the online dating app you use the most? And will you continue to use Tinder now that it’s charging a monthly fee for some of its functions?