These days when people talk about internet dating, they're usually talking about Tinder. Why? Because Tinder is the app that removed the stigma match.com and all the rest put in, by turning online romance into silly, shallow, fun game instead of purporting to be a serious (read: tragic) way to find true love.
The result is that there is now no end of apps with the same purpose. Here, we take the biggest alternatives to Tinder and give them a spin to find out what (if anything) they do different, and whether they're worth spending even more time glued to your iPhone.
1 | Down
The USP: Gives you the chance to tell your friends (rather than strangers) that you want to sleep with them.
Pros: There is a strange thrill in being able to 'swipe' that acquaintance you've always fancied, asking them for a date (up) or telling them you want to sleep with them (down). Until you realise how pathetic it is.
Cons: It pulls in every single woman who happens to be your friend on Facebook, even if they haven't joined Down yet (your cowardly come on will be waiting for them if they ever do), making it rather pointless.
Verdict: The more you think about it, the less sense Down makes. Isn't the whole point of internet dating that you can meet someone new? This hook up app for friends (and friends of friends) is the equivalent of passing 'I Like You' notes in class.
2 | Happn
The USP: Hook up with the people you walk past on the street.
Pros: Once you get over the slight stalker complex Happn instils on you by showing women who walked past your front door an hour ago, matching with users within a 250 meter radius is atually quite handy. Chances are you live or work in the same area, so arranging a date becomes a lot simpler.
Cons: If the date goes horribly, there are no assurances you won't bump into her when you're buying milk a few days later. Also, spend too much time on it and you start getting paranoid you're seeing 'someone you liked on Happn' every time you sit in your local cafe.
Verdict: One of the most effective – and convenient – dating apps out there. Until it isn't.
3 | Hinge
The USP: Match with your pal's pals (on Facebook).
Pros: The brashness. If you actively pursue a date on Hinge, discretion mustn't be an issue – your friends are bound to find out. This means having a handy mutual connection to discuss / slag off when you meet up for drinks.
Cons: It's all a little too close to home: what's to stop her feeding your dating tekkers back to your pal? It could make future beers with your mates a little awkward.
Verdict: This app allows you to eliminate the middleman. If you lack inhibition, Hinge could throw the door wide open.
4 | OKCupid
he USP: Endless personality quiz questions that give you a match percentage with would-be partners.
Pros: You can weed out people with traits or points of view you find simply unacceptable. Racists, bigots and Mumford & Sons fans, then.
Cons: Too many basic functions are restricted to paid membership.
Verdict: Worth a shot, if ony to kill time answering bizarre questions about yourself.
5 | How About We
The USP: Based around suggesting dates, rather than banging on about yourself.
Pros: Beautifully designed.
Cons: Not many people use it. Yet.
Verdict: One for grown ups. If dating apps have an 'atmosphere', then How About We is a pleasant summer garden party where people enjoy polite conversation and no one makes an nappropriate lunge on anyone else until at least 1 am.
6 | How About We
Te USP: It's a huge ocean, with more members than any of the others (around 70 million).
Pros: Unlike most of the other apps, doing the basics on POF – looking at profiles, sending and reading messages – is absolutely free.
Cons: A high number of sexually frustrated virgin-trolls means a lot of women find using it a harrowing experience, which understandably makes them cagey when you come along. It's disheartening how many women have to resort to 'please no sex pests' appendixs on their profile information.
Verdict: Easy to navigate, simple and free to use, void of distracting gimmicks. And unlike Tinder, users tend to write a bit about themselves, meaning you have more to go on (and sell yourself with) than just your 5 least-worst selfies.
7 | Grindr
The USP: It really works. If you happen to be gay, bisexual or curious.
Pros: Easy and efficient to use, you can find a hookup within minutes.
Cons: It is notoriously 'glitchy', with messages disappearing and some functions not working properly.
Verdict: The app that started it all, Grindr has been helping men who like men improve their sex lives since 2009. Whether they are honest about it or not, every heterosexual internet dating app out there aspires to be the 'Grindr for straight people'. Has is happened yet? Not even close.
8 | Inner Circle
The USP: Members are vetted, and they also run IRL singles events.
Pros: The screening process ensures out-and-out perverts are banished, which means everyone wins (except the perverts). The fun and well organised events means membership feels a bit more like a club, and less like pin-balling around a vast galaxy of random singletons.
Cons: After sending someone a message, you're notified when they're checking your profile, which means you can actually see yourself being rejected in real time. But hey, that's life.
Verdict: Pulling together the best elements of other older dating apps, Inner Circle is the best all-rounder out there with the highest quantity of people you'd actually like to meet. £5 a week for the advanced user options is just too much, though.
9 | WingMe
The USP: Playing the wingman and selecting girls you think your mates may be interested in.
Pros: If you're shy, that confident pal of yours could set you up with someone you wouldn't have spoken to otherwise.
Cons: Judging girls sitting a few tables away from you – via your phones – is all at once anti-social and a tad lecherous.
Verdict: Okay for an experimental pub tryout. Just the once, mind.
10 | Bumble
The USP: Like Tinder, except once you match, only the ladies can make the first move and say hello.
Pros: It means women have an extra barrier against the 'hey hun wanna fuk??' brigade, which is good for all concerned. It also means if she's got in touch with you, you definitely weren't an 'accidental swipe', meaning you'll be leaving less of those unanswered hellos that slowly chip away at your soul.
Cons: None, really. Though one minor gripe is that Bumble's algorithm clearly pulls ten of the highest rated profiles to the top of your feed every time you log in. Parading the hottest – and least obtainable – women in front of your face every time you log in feels a little bit manipulating / cynical.
Verdict: A dating app where women need not fear to tread, where the sting of rejection is largely removed for you. Win-win.