Additional app guides
- Best LGBT dating apps
- Best Android apps
- Best iPhone apps
Some other websites may be older, but Tinder is undoubtedly the most famous dating app out there. As such, it’s an obvious choice to come first on our list of the best dating apps. As successful as it is at forming long-distance relationships and successful marriages, Tinder has long been accused of changing dating into some form of hookup game. But it’s the king of the dating hill for a reason, and the first port of call for many daters.
Thankfully, the Tinder app no longer requires you to have a Facebook account, but you do have to be older than 18 to sign up. Once enabled, you set up a concise profile that consists of a 500-character bio and up to six images (we suggest always including a photo or your best selfie). You can also link Tinder to your Instagram account, and include info about your employer and/or school. Discovery settings allow you to set preferences for who can find your profile, from distance and proximity to age range. But once that’s over, this is where the real fun begins.
Tinder’s interface is svelte, and shows you only a photo, name, and age of each prospect. You can tap on the photo to see additional information of the person, as well as Facebook friends you share (if you’re logged in through your Facebook account). You can then swipe right (to like them), left (to pass), or up if you want to use one of your precious “super likes” to show them you really, really like them. If you and another person have both swiped right on one another, a screen will appear showing you’ve matched and inviting you to send them a message. The free option comes with limited swipes, and you’ll have to sign up to Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold to get features like unlimited swipes.
The photos are large, the app is — comparatively speaking — elegant, and setting up your profile is pretty painless. All things considered, Tinder gets an A for its usability. Also, no one can message you unless you have also expressed an interest in them, which means you get no unsolicited messages. While there are a fair few people on Tinder who use it strictly to collect swipes, many people are actually inclined to meet up in real life, which is not always the case with dating apps. Since Tinder is also one of the most popular dating apps, you’re more likely to come across someone you like who lives nearby. Dating is a numbers game, and Tinder has numbers on its side — even if the app itself is widely regarded to be one of the buggiest around.
XO — Dating & Icebreaker Games
XO is a solid dating app, but with one big difference — instead of the usual corny pickup lines and awkward first chats, you and your match play a fun game together, which allows you to get to know each other in a much more natural way. There are a number of icebreakers available, including drawing and word games, so you should be able to find something worth playing with every one of your matches. Playing something like a game helps to make conversing much more natural, and it gives you an easy conversation starter — even if it’s only about which games you prefer. You can also share funny results on social media, which helps to immediately introduce your new amour into your social circles.
Matching works similarly to other dating apps. You can match with individuals from your Match screen and tap the checkmark for anyone you’re interested in meeting. Or, if you’re the more adventurous type, you can tap the Blind Date option to be matched with someone completely different. You’ll play a game with your blind date and only have your identities revealed at the end of that first game. While you may find that a little scary, the chance to reach outside of your usual physical type may reap dividends, as you could end up connecting with someone you might usually not have.
The free version gets you a limited version of the app, so you’ll need to subscribe for additional features like unlimited likes, seeing who’s liked you, changing any mistaken selections you’ve made, and stripping out ads. A monthly subscription is expensive at $15, but you can buy a year for $96 to save a little extra cash — though, as always with dating apps, paying upfront can be a little risky, as you’re essentially paying with the hope of not needing it eventually.
On the downside, the app is still quite new, which means its userbase is going to be quite a bit smaller than other dating apps. If you live in a less populated area, this might mean you’re much less likely to find someone within close proximity to yourself. However, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on, as the icebreaking games are definitely a new and fun way to meet people.
Why add information to a completely new app, when you could just use an app you probably use every single day? Facebook Dating has rolled out in the U.S., and it can leverage everything Facebook already knows about you to help you find a partner.
You don’t have to download a separate app to get started with Facebook Dating, as it’s built into the main Facebook app. To try it out, tap on the menu icon on the upper-right side of your Facebook app. From there, just tap the Dating option — though you may need to tap See More to find it. Tap on Get Started and you’ll be taken through several steps to set up your profile, including the gender you’re looking for, a confirmation of your location, and a choice of profile picture for your dating profile.
The big advantage of using Facebook as your dating platform is that it already knows an awful lot about you, and while that’s a bit creepy, that data is used to refine your dating choices, making it a boon in this particular case. Facebook can also skim your regular profile for details that it thinks might appeal to potential suitors — though you can remove anything you’re not happy with sharing.
The big worry is that Facebook will accidentally suggest your friends, or show that you’re open to dating on your regular profile. Thankfully, this isn’t the case, and Facebook keeps such details quiet. It might take a few days for your first match to arrive, but you’ll get a push notification when it does. If you find someone you like, you just have to tap the heart icon on your profile to unlock the option to message them.
But there’s another feature that allows you to reach out to that friend or follower you’ve been secretly crushing on for so long — if they return your feelings, that is. Called Secret Crush, this feature allows you to choose up to nine of your Facebook friends or Instagram followers as a “secret crush” on Facebook Dating. If they have a Dating profile and also select you as one of their crushes, well, Facebook Dating will let you both know your feelings are returned. If your feelings aren’t returned, well, no one will ever know, making it a no-lose situation.
Facebook Dating isn’t available everywhere yet, but it is available on partial rollout in the U.S. and a variety of South American countries. If you’re in the U.S. and are finding you can’t sign up to Facebook Dating, just check back at a later date, and try one of the other apps on this list in the meantime.
If you’re gay, bi, trans, or queer, then there’s no better place to find love than Grindr. It’s the largest LGBTQ+ social media and dating site out there, and it’s a must-download if you’re looking for that special someone — or just a little fun. Sign-up is easy — you can either choose to enter your details in the old-fashioned way by filling in the form, or you can quickly sign up with your Facebook account. Once you’re signed up, you’ll want to set a profile picture, a display name, and make it clear whether you’re looking for love, a hookup, or just friends.
With that out of the way, you’ll be able to start seeing who’s in your area. You can favorite people if you want to speak to them later or just really like them, and you can even browse other locations — perfect if you’re heading somewhere else for the weekend, or want to make some new friends before a big move. It’s easy to message people — just tap the messaging icon on their profile — and there are large, high-quality pictures available for each of your matches, so you have a good idea of who you’re meeting up with. You can even location share for really easy meetups. If something goes wrong, it’s also easy to report or block accounts — though there are a limited number of blocks for free users, which is odd, and a serious turnoff.
Using the service is free, but there are limits. Free users only get to see 100 profiles in their area and are limited in other parts of the app too. If you want to lift those limits, then there are two subscriptions you can take out. The first, Grindr XTRA, allows you to see up to 600 profiles in your area, lets you view only people who are online now, removes ads, and adds other upgrades for $20 a month. But if you want the best possible experience, then there’s Grindr Unlimited, which has no limit on the number of people you can see, lets you see who’s viewed your profile, and allows for browsing in Incognito mode. That will set you back $25 a month though, so it’s quite the investment.
Ship — Dating made fun again
The first dating app you can download (guilt-free) if you’re not single, Ship has a unique concept. Rather than just being a one-on-one affair, this dating app allows your friends to get in on the dating process by vetting potential matches and sending them over to you — doubtless with a few thoughts of their own. Otherwise, you can use it as a regular dating app, with the option of inviting friends later to get their thoughts before you commit to a date.
Getting started is easy. If you’re looking for love, you download the app, set up your account, and then invite people to join your Crew. Once set up, you can send profiles to your Crew, who’ll then be able to check them out for you and let you know if they think you’ll prove a match. If you’re more the matchmaking type, you can individually search on your friend’s behalf and send them any potential suitors, along with your thoughts. A recent update has increased the number of Crews you can have, so you can have separate Crews for different groups of friends.
Once a match has been found, you can chat with them through the app. If you’re a more private individual, you probably don’t see the attraction here. But if you’ve ever sent over screenshots of a potential match to your friends for approval and discussion, then this app is an absolute must-download.
If music be the food of love, then it’s likely to break your heart if a potential life partner can’t stand your favorite tunes. Tastebuds’ dating app gives you a chance to avoid that, with dating and social pairing matched primarily on musical love. Simply sign up, add the music you like, and you’ll be matched up with nearby people who share a similar taste in tunes. If your taste is constantly evolving, you can add your Spotify profile too, so your profile is kept immaculately up-to-date. There’s a website version too.
It’s on the smaller side where these sorts of apps are concerned, with only 500,000 people registered worldwide at the last count. Being iOS-only is only going to restrict that even more — though surveys say Android and iOS owners don’t want to date each other anyway. So if you’re a bit further out from an urban area than your average person, well, you may not find many people near you. If you are lucky enough to be close to a number of Tastebuds members, then it’s also worth keeping in mind it’s not just for dating — it’s also useful for finding new friends with similar musical tastes, concert buddies, and even collaborators and new band members.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel used to require Facebook to create an account, but that’s thankfully no longer the case. Instead, you’ll need to use your phone number to verify yourself, making signing up even easier — and slightly less intrusive.
Once you’ve set up your profile and input your dating preferences, Coffee Meets Bagel will send you a few “bagels” a day — otherwise known as a potential match’s profile. You then have 24 hours to decide whether you want to “like” or “pass” on your bagel. If you like your bagel and they have also liked you, you’ll connect and be able to message one another in a private chat. That chat room expires after eight days, regardless of whether you’ve talked with your bagel or not, and that expiry date imbues an immediacy not found in most other dating apps. You can also earn “beans” that allow for extra app functions, either by purchasing them outright, recommending the app to your friends, or logging in on consecutive days.
The service also offers more specific preference options, so you can narrow choices to certain religious beliefs or ethnicities, if those are particularly important to you. You can load up to nine photos and have a much more prolific profile than some other apps. And if you’ve entered any icebreakers into your profile, the app will send one of them to a bagel you’ve connected with as the first message, allowing for a convenient immediate connection. The fact that chat rooms expires after a week puts some pressure on you to exchange phone numbers or meet up in real life or to just quietly fade away without any fuss. The interface is also relatively user-friendly, with large photos and clean text.
Appearances can be deceiving, though. Although Coffee Meets Bagel allows for a range of super-specific preferences, the bagel it sends you may or may not match your specified preferences and, more often than not, if they do, they will be a significant distance away. The app can also be glitchy, often resulting in slow update and load times, and sometimes it’s frustrating that it sends you only a single bagel a day. You can speed things up a bit by using the “give & take” option, but it’ll cost you a hefty 385 beans to like someone who catches your eye.
Despite the expiry of bagels, the slow pace and infrequency of connecting with potential matches make it all too easy to be super-passive in the app, which can render it useless. However, if you prefer a slower pace, then Coffee Meets Bagel is appealing.
Load up Hinge and you might think you’ve accidentally booted into Tinder. Yes, Hinge looks a lot like Tinder’s younger sister, and given the dating context, that might make you a little uncomfortable. But dive a little deeper and there are more differences. Function-wise, it’s very different, and uses common interests to pair with prospective matches. It does this by having you answer a bunch of questions through a Tinder-like interface. Have you been to Berlin? Swipe right. Don’t play croquet? Swipe left. This makes answering questions far easier and less time consuming, not to mention more fun. The questions themselves aren’t as asinine as those in some other dating apps, and give you a better sense of someone than 500 characters of description.
People can message you only if you’ve matched, so there are no unsolicited “greetings.” You can immediately see what sort of relationship people are looking for, and while that doesn’t sound revolutionary, it reflects the fact that Hinge carries more of a dating expectation than a hooking-up expectation à la Tinder. Best of all, since the matches are curated by your answers to questions, it’s quite a bit harder to come across someone who’s just looking to send inappropriate pictures — and that’s a big plus in our book.
You can only add photos of yourself from Facebook or Instagram, though, which is kind of limiting if you’re not very active on either. Hinge used to be based around a Facebook friends-of-friends model, but it has since distanced itself from Facebook, which means it’s a lot harder to run out of potential matches. However, this means Hinge is a lot less unique than it used to be. Like other apps, there’s a free version and a subscription-based version called “Preferred.” The free membership has limited filters and likes and a reduced ability to see everyone who likes you. The paid membership lifts those restrictions and costs $9 a month, with a reduced fee per month if you sign on for three or six months.
When it comes to dating apps, Raya stands out from the pack. The exclusive members-only site caters specifically to those in creative industries, and it’s as much for networking as it is for dating.
If you want to join Raya, be prepared to do a little legwork, as this app is a lot more exclusive than your usual dating app. After downloading the app, you need to complete an application and get a referral from a current member. Your application will then be assessed on certain algorithmic values before being finally evaluated by an anonymous committee. The entire process can take anywhere from several weeks from several months, and once you’re approved there’s a monthly membership fee of $10 for a month, or $30 for six months.
As you’d hope following the rigmarole of joining, the app itself is well designed and pretty straightforward. The first thing you’ll need to do is set up your profiles; there’s one for dating and one for networking. Once your profile is active, you can review closely curated dating prospects, or access the Social Mode. This feature shows different hotspots where other members are hanging out, so it’s a great mode for promoting face-to-face networking. Thanks to the rigorous application method and strict code of conduct, you”ll find Raya members tend to be more respectful of others. They’re also more invested in the app overall, meaning they’re more likely to meet other members in person.
So is Raya worth all the trouble? That’s a call you’ll need to make on your own, but if the reviews on the App Store are to be believed, the answer is yes. Overall, Raya seems like a good app for people who are serious about finding like-minded partners or friends, but it’s easy to be felt left out in the cold if you’re unable to get a referral. There’s also some apparent platform bias too, as there’s no Android version yet.
There was no way we could discuss the best dating apps without mentioning the granddaddy of them all. Match was at the top of the dating game long before dating apps like Tinder existed, and its experience shows. Sign-up is simple but can take a little time. Sign-up involves entering your details, answering a few questions about your preferences, and adding a couple of photos. Facebook registration isn’t needed either, thankfully.
Match’s version of flirting is sending someone a “wink,” and you can search through the Match database to find “winkable” people. The service will also provide you with daily personalized matches, which take your interests into consideration. There’s also a personalized dating “coach” that sends recommendations of people who match your desires. The Match interface is also pretty sleek and minimalist, but it’s not as easy to use as, say, Tinder. It uses a set of tabs that run along the top of the display (“matches,” “search,” “viewed me,” and “mixer”), which break up the service’s various functions. It’s not an overly complicated app, but it does take a few minutes to get used to.
However, to make the most of Match, you’re going to need a subscription, which can get a little pricey — the cheapest option currently available will run you $24 a month, for 12 months. If you don’t want to sign up for a year, well, it’ll cost $32 a month for three months or $27 a month for six months instead. Is it worth it? A premium subscription does allow you to see who’s recently looked at your profile and who has liked your pictures, though, and includes a host of other features.
Bumble looks eerily similar to Tinder, but functions a tad differently. The big catch with Bumble is that when opposite genders match, the woman must message the guy first — and she has 24 hours to do so. Guys don’t have as much power, but they can extend matches for 24 hours if they’re really hoping to hear from a particular woman. Ladies can do the same thing if they want to chat with a match, but haven’t had time during the first day. For same-gender matches, either person can initiate the conversation first.
It’s a system that promotes an active approach, but not enough to be punishing. The 24-hour time limit to connect with someone adds just enough pressure to say “hello,” so matches don’t languish and get reshuffled into the deck. And if you accidentally nixed someone? Just shake your phone to undo your rogue swipe.
Profiles are concise and settings are pared down, like with Tinder, but swiping up allows you to scroll through additional photos instead of super-liking someone. This means that just because someone twitched their thumb up on your photo, you won’t have to see their profile first every time you open the app, even though you swipe left on their profile every time.
Bumble also checks the boxes for usability, a slick user interface, and easy profile setup. Also, the relatively ballsy move of designing a dating app where women take the driving seat definitely pays off. It’s the only app that states plainly and prominently that it prohibits pornographic material, requires its users to respect one another, and has a code of conduct in place specifically to make it a safe and friendly place.
If you’re a woman and you hate being the first person to initiate a conversation, then Bumble definitely isn’t for you. Profiles are also very short, consisting of a concise blurb and six photos or fewer. This can make it hard to gauge whether or not you’re interested in someone, even at the most superficial level. Furthermore, because Bumble places the onus on the woman to initiate the conversation, we’ve found that it can attract a more passive crowd than other dating apps. However, if you’re a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it, Bumble is worth a shot.
How often do you cross paths with the love of your life before you actually meet them? Maybe you smile at your crush every day when you get your morning coffee, but you’ve never built up the courage to talk? If so, Happn could be for you. It’s a dating app that shows the profiles of other singles and pinpoints the last place and time you were near each other. All your prospective matches are people you’ve crossed paths with, so you’re always starting out with something in common.
You can like people secretly, and they won’t find out unless they like you, too. If you’re comfortable being bolder, you can tap the Charm button to let them know you’re interested. However, Charms cost coins, which you’ll have to buy with real cash via in-app purchases. When you get a match — which Happn calls a Crush — you can start chatting with each other.
It’s very quick and easy to set up and use. The profile creation is pretty standard. You add photos, age, profession, and interests, and you can also specify what you like doing, whether that’s taking a walk in the park, seeing a movie, or going for a drink. Happn also has some nifty integrations — you can use Facebook to set up your profile, hook up your Instagram account to automatically add photos, and add Spotify to see if your musical tastes align with matches.
Happn uses the GPS functionality on your phone to track your movements. If you’ve been within 800 feet of a potential match, then you’ll see their profile. For that reason, it works best for city dwellers. People can’t contact you unless you tap the Heart on their profile. Happn never displays your position to other users in real-time, and you can also block users if you have stalking concerns.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish (POF) is one of the oldest dating services out there, and it’s certainly the biggest, after hitting 90 million users in May 2017. With that many users, you’re more likely to find matches quicker. Plenty of Fish itself likes to point that out, saying that users are 2.7 times more likely to be matched in their first 24 hours.
That sort of massive following is a selling point in itself, but Plenty of Fish has more going for it than just pure size. It takes things that works for other apps and includes it in its own, adding Tinder’s swiping mechanics, and a Happn-style ability to see matches near to you. It does have its own little twists on the formula — POF’s “Spark” system allows users to quote any part of their match’s profile, so icebreakers are much easier when you can see what a message is referencing.
Much like other dating apps, POF has you take a chemistry test of your likes and dislikes, and it quizzes you about your wants and needs from a relationship, so you can be sure that you’re likely to be matched with people who are looking for similar outcomes to your own. The best part? It’s completely free and doesn’t charge to message or browse your matches. That makes it the ideal app to download if you’re in the market, but aren’t actively searching for love. And if you’re going out of your way to find someone, Plenty of Fish may have your perfect catch. However, the sign-up process is pretty lengthy, and the layout is rather fiddly on mobile.
Looking for that Ivy League grad who works in finance? Well, The League may be the perfect dating app for you. It bills itself as a dating service for the ambitious and well-educated crowd.
Like Raya, joining The League can take a bit of effort. You need to set up a profile and allow the app to access your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. The League uses these networks to verify your information (and make sure your colleagues don’t see your account). After you complete your application, The League will verify your eligibility, and you will either be accepted on the spot (rare), rejected (common), or waitlisted. If waitlisted, it can take hours to several months to become a full-fledged member.
Once you’re a full-fledged member of The League, the fun begins. While there is a free option, most users opt for the paid membership option at $99 a month or $350 a year. As a paid member, you receive up to seven prospects each day during Happy Hour; tap the heart button if you like the prospect, or the X if you wish to move on. If you do match with another member, you have 21 days to contact each other. If you continuously fail to contact or reply to members, you will be deemed “flaky” by The League, and it may send fewer prospects your way in the future.
The League is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re the type of person who places a lot of weight on a potential partner’s career and educational background, you may want to give The League a chance — and that audience is definitely not deterred by the high membership cost. If you’re not as picky, you may want to skip The League and give one of our other favorite dating apps a shot.
You can now video call your Tinder matches within the app
The best Android apps (July 2020)
The best iPhone apps (July 2020)
The best LGBTQ dating apps for Android and iOS
Best apps for livestreaming: Stream, connect, and even make money
Send your news and stories to us email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and WhatsApp: +447747873668.
Before you go...
Democratic norms are being stress-tested all over the world, and the past few years have thrown up all kinds of questions we didn't know needed clarifying – how long is too long for a parliamentary prorogation? How far should politicians be allowed to intervene in court cases? To monitor these issues as closely as we have in the past we need your support, so please consider donating to The Climax News Room.