Years ago, we thought we couldn't live without the fax machine. Now, can you imagine living without your cell phone?
According to the Pew Internet Project's research study related to mobile technology, 56 percent of Americans have a smartphone, and 29 percent of cell phone owners describe their device as something they can't imagine living without.
I've often said that if your cell phone was waterproof, it would end up in the shower with you. That's how dependent and attached we've become to our smartphones.
Enter the popular world of mobile dating. Singles are finding themselves living in an instant-gratification world of push notifications, as they embrace mobile dating apps from their favorite dating sites, or try the new mobile-friendly apps to make new friends, casually hook-up, or find a serious relationship.
As love continues to blend together with technology in everyday life, a variety of flavors of dating apps are helping to speed up the process for online daters. Several new apps, considered social networking apps or social discovery apps, were featured in this year's Mobile Dating BootCamp.
The convenience of dating from your mobile phone not only results in meeting more people, but it also speeds up the process from initial contact to meeting in person, and it allows you to connect through Facebook to see if you have friends in common, which gives instant credibility to your potential date.
From hook-ups to marriage, here are 10 mobile dating apps that I recommend to help singles in their quest to find the perfect date.
First, let's start with the household names of the dating sites that you're probably already familiar with. If you're a member of one of these online dating sites, you can date on-the-go as you take advantage of their mobile apps, many of which have additional features than are found on their web-based versions.
1. Match: iOs, Android, and BlackBerry
Match was launched in 1995, and is available in 24 countries around the world in 15 different languages. With over 15 million members, they're considered the world's largest subscription-based, online dating site. Their mobile app is a service for paid subscribers on more platforms than any other app. Match reports that more than 40 percent of user logins come from their mobile apps.
How it Works:
Users need to sign up for Match on their web-based service, and then download the app for their mobile phones. Once logged on, users can wink, view profiles, upload up to 24 photos, send and receive emails, add users to their "Favorites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Other Premium features include the popular "Who's Viewed Me" feature. Users can also sign up on Facebook and be notified of upcoming Stir (offline) Events on their mobile app.
2. eHarmony: iOs and Android
eHarmony is responsible for over 1 million people getting married since they launched in 2000. That's a number to brag about. Their mobile app downloads surpassed the five million mark over the summer. eHarmony reports that users tend to access their mobile apps 5 or more times throughout the day, compared to twice a day on the computer. Over 40 percent of their user registrations take place in the mobile environment.
How it Works:
The app is free to download, and you can sign up, fill out your profile and questionnaire, upload photos from Facebook, receive daily matches, and communicate for free on specialty weekends. Paid members have the same functionality as the subscriber's web version. You can view photos, go through guided communication, see when a match last logged in, and read/write emails.
3. OkCupid: iOs and Android
OkCupid is free, and it has a simple way to access the web version of their site on your mobile phone. The OkCupid mobile-only app is location-based, which makes it easy to find someone close by.
How it Works:
Users can sign in from Facebook, or directly on the mobile app, to find singles in their area. Accessing their "Locals" feature will show them people in their vicinity. The app allows you to swipe right to "like" a user, or swipe left to "take a pass." If there is a mutual match, you'll find out immediately and will receive an email. Users can then visit their profile or send a message. Other features you can access from your mobile phone include: viewing the famous OkCupid questions, watching the activity stream of potential dates, saving a profile as a favorite, viewing your visitors, and ranking your potential dates from 1-5 stars in their "Quick Match" feature. Each user's profile will state your Match, Friend and Enemy percentages, similar to what you'll find on the web-based site. Upgrading to A-List, which includes anonymous browsing, is an additional monthly fee.
4. PlentyOfFish: iOs and Android
P.O.F. is one of the largest free dating sites in the world, with over 2 million Americans logging on to the site each day. P.O.F. reports that 80 percent of people who access P.O.F. from a mobile device do so from their mobile Apps. According to comScore, PlentyOfFish has captured 67 percent of the market share among mobile dating apps in the U.S. The app is completely free, and is available in five languages, including: English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
How it works:
Users sign up for free and can search for singles from their mobile app using new filters, such as: education, height and body type. Their Android app has a "Places" feature to provides users with a list of potential date hot spots. PlentyOfFish has also created a premium feature called "View Interaction," which tells singles if they've already interacted with a user. This means verifying if they've messaged back and forth, added each other to their "Favorites" list or viewed each others' profiles. This ensures that you're not wasting time messaging someone you've already reached out to. Users can also search for singles from their mobile app using new filters such as: education, height and body type. PlentyOfFish has always understood the importance of singles meeting face to face. Their new "Date Night" feature will tell other singles in your area that you're available for a date this weekend. The feature resets itself every week.
5. How About We: iOs and Android
How About We now provides an online meet-and-greet, with the goal of being an offline dating service for both singles and couples. Their mobile app lets you view full screen photos, and dates of people in your area. Their goal is to connect online and meet offline at user created events.
How it works:
Members can sign up for free and post ideas for dates. This helps speed up the process, as often a member will have tickets for a specific concert or sporting event, and will list the date/time of the potential date. Users will find more than just suggested beach walks from their busy and active members. Members also receive real-time notifications when someone is intrigued by their date, or just to send recommended dates. To view your visitors, members can invite three friends for free to join the site, or upgrade to the premium membership. To send or read emails, you'll need to pay for a membership which runs from $8.99 per month to $34.99 per month.
Some mobile dating apps make the user experience like a fun game to play. Singles can take a break from work, or sit and watch television while scanning and swiping through thousands of profiles. Yes, with these apps looks do matter, as in a split-second users will decide whether to select a profile or take a pass.
6. Tinder: iOs and Android
As Tinder celebrates its one year anniversary, it's become the fastest-growing, location-based mobile dating app, as well as a household name. Tinder recently released a new version, which is optimized for iOs 7. While early adopters were found on college campuses, now everyone from Lindsey Lohan to the former Miss U.S.A., to your closest neighbors can be found flirting on the Tinder app. During this year's Mobile Dating BootCamp, just about every participant requested to use Tinder while looking for love online. Tinder reports that 54 percent of their members are between 18-24, and 31.6 percent are between 25-34. The app is simple to use, is completely free, and best of all, it is anonymous.
How it works:
Users download the mobile app on their iPhone or Android phones, and can connect through Facebook to create a profile. You can upload up to six profile photos. Users scroll through potential matches nearby and click on the heart icon if they're interested, or they can click on the X icon if they'd like to take a pass. If there's a mutual match, you'll be instantly notified, and then you can start chatting in text message style, directly through the app. Tinder reports 400 million matches to date with approximately 4 million new matches per day.
7. Let's Date: iOs
Let's Date calls itself the "Instagam" of dating. Users sign and create their date card through Facebook. Once your profile is created, you'll have the ability to edit your profile if you don't want it to mirror your Facebook profile. Let's Date reports that 55 percent of their users are between 18 to 24 years old, and 40 percent are between 24 and 35 years old.
How it works:
Let's Date uses science to help match you with someone compatible on their mobile dating app. It's easy to create a profile for free and scroll through those which are sent to you. If you're traveling, you can change your location to the city you'd like to start dating in, and fill up your date card before your arrival. Plus, you can link to your Facebook or Twitter accounts to create a more robust profile. Users can click on "Yes" or "No, Thanks" to profiles they've been matched with. If there's a mutual match, users can be notified by email to let them know that it's time to start chatting with their digital crush. You can also speed up the process by sending a flirt to the person you've selected for 99 cents in the iTunes store.They also have a "wingman" feature, which allows non-daters to view profiles and share them with their single friends through email, SMS, or Twitter.
8. Zoosk: iOs and Android
Zoosk is a top mobile dating app for iPhone users, and a top 10 grossing social networking app in the iTunes store. Zoosk reports that 55 percent of their mobile users are using their Android app, and 45 percent of are using the app on iOs devices. It's also hugely popular as a Facebook app, or it can be accessed via the web. It is available in 25 languages with members in over 70 countries
How it works:
Users sign up for free, but if you pay for a subscription to Zoosk, you'll get unlimited winks and messages, full access to the ZSMS feature, can see who has viewed your profile and you can chat with the connections you make. The cost of subscriptions are: one month for $29.95, three months for $19.98 per month or six months for $12.49 per month.
9. Badoo: iOs and Android
Badoo is a free dating app that was launched in 2006, and it is a fun way to meet new friends and dates in a game-like environment. Badoo reports that they have over 197 million members worldwide, in 180 countries, with over 41 languages available and over 100,000 new mobile app users added every day.
How it works:
Users can sign in through Facebook and use the service on the web, as well as on their mobile dating apps. Users can find singles with similar interests nearby to chat with, and their "Encounters" game helps connect them with possible matches. Their premium paid service includes a "Spotlight" and "Rise Up" feature to be able to be seen by more members. With "Spotlight," the member's photo and brief profile info appear at the top of every main Badoo page within their area or region. "Rise Up" instantly puts the member's profile at the top of the search results within their region. The "Super Powers" feature is a monthly service fee which gives users more control.
10. Grindr: iOs, Android and BlackBerry
Launched in 2009, Grindr has been a leader in the mobile dating, app-only service as the most innovative and successful, niche based mobile dating app in the world. Grindr has seven million Gay male users in 192 countries around the world. The average user spends 2 hours a day on the app, and logs in eight times a day. Over 200 million photos are sent every day from guys using their mobile app. Grindr reports that one billion chat messages are being sent in a given month.
How it works:
Grindr is a location-based app where users can create a profile for free, upload photos, chat and meet. Users can view 100 profiles of men in their area. Premium users of Grindr-Xtra have an advertising-free service, and can receive push notifications even when the app is closed. Other benefits of Grindr-Xtra include the swipe feature to easily scan through profiles. The premium service costs between $12.99 per month to $64.99 a year.
Do you have a favorite mobile dating app?
Julie Spira is an online dating expert and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert: Dating in a Web 2.0 World. She was an early adopter of Internet dating, having created her first profile almost 20 years ago. Today, she coaches singles on the dating scene with her Irresistible Profiles programs. Julie is the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online, and is featured frequently in the media on the subjects of online dating and mobile dating.
Portions of this article appeared on CyberDatingExpert.com.