Hinge, Tastebuds, and Match.com
Hinge is kind of like Tinder. Okay, it’s actually a lot like Tinder, but with a few key differences that make it better. Interface-wise, it looks like Tinder’s younger sister. However, function-wise, it relies more on your Facebook friends to make connections for you. Hinge also connects you through friends of friends of friends, and shows you not just the people you have in common, but also all the things you have in common. 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 might.
If you want to know more about someone, you can always just ask the friend you have in common, which is a nice human touch that’s absent from most dating apps. Moreover, people can message you only if you’ve matched, so no unsolicited “greetings” from someone you would never match with. You can see what sort of relationship people are looking for, and while that doesn’t sound that revolutionary, it reflects the fact that Hinge carries more of a dating expectation than a just-hooking-up expectation à la Tinder. Furthermore, because of the friends-of-friends connection, you’re less likely to run across inappropriate photos. That’s a 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. Also, while the friends-of-friends concept has a lot of benefits, it’s also restricting. It’s possible to run out of matches after 10 minutes of browsing, which is a letdown if you’re actually enjoying the app or are serious about finding a date.
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The only iOS-only app on this list (Apple users don’t like matching with Android users, apparently), Tastebuds is a dating app that uses musical taste to guess who you’re compatible with. You can link it to your Facebook account if you like, but you’re not forced to. You can also make your profile as detailed or sparse as you like — character limits for each question, mostly centered on music, are pretty high. Once you’re set up, you can flick through individual profiles to view all the information the user has included, including song clips from artists they like. You can “like” a person if interested, and if not, simply “skip” them. You can even send a song or message users before or after they match with you.
The overall experience is also enjoyable. The user interface is clean and simple, and creating your profile is uncomplicated, allowing you to use both Facebook and non-Facebook photos. Even if profiles are a bit long, they’re never cumbersome and only include what you actually filled out. Listening to a song that the person likes while scrolling through their profile is also an added personal touch, as is being able to send someone a song. It’s the updated, truncated version of making someone a mixtape. Moreover, a lot of people use the app to find friends and concert buddies, as well as dates. Of all the information dating apps use to determine compatibility, music seems the least arbitrary.
Unfortunately, Tastebuds is not without its drawbacks. There isn’t a place in the app to see all people you’ve matched with — just those with whom you’ve started a messaging thread. The app also only plays clips of songs and they occasionally stall, which is annoying, especially when someone has a longer profile and a good song selection. Possibly our biggest complaint with Tastebuds, though, is that it is very easy to accidentally skip someone you didn’t mean to skip. There are a few reasons it’s easy to unintentionally skip someone, most of which have to do with the way the app is laid out. Simple fixes, such as positioning the “like” button on the right and using a different motion to view additional profile photos, would help immensely. We can dream, right?
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There was no way we could discuss the best dating apps without mentioning the granddaddy of them all. Match.com was at the top of the dating game long before the service ever released an official mobile app. Thankfully, you don’t have to log into the app via Facebook, though you will have to go through a sign-up process that requires you to add a few photos, answer some questions about your gender and preferences, and create a username and password. The same login credentials will work with the desktop version of the site.
The Match.com iteration of flirting is sending someone a “wink,” and you can search through the Match.com database to find people to wink at. The service will also provide you with personalized matches on a daily basis, which take your interests into consideration. To really make the most of Match.com, however, you’re going to need a subscription, which can get a little pricey — the cheapest option currently available will run you $21 a month for six months. 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.
The Match.com interface is also pretty sleek and minimalist, but it’s not as easy to use as, say, Tinder. It utilizes a set of tabs that run along the top of the display — i.e. “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.
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