There is a bevy of dating apps out there, ranging from selective, inviteonly apps to straight up sex apps. Some users are in it for the fun, and there are apps made specifically for that purpose, while others are looking for something a bit
more long-term, and that niche is covered as well. There are the dominant dating sites, like Match.com and OkCupid, which cater to a slightly older demographic than Tinder, for example, which is the most popular app for twentysomethings
to hook up with each other and at a pretty high rate, what with all the swiping and matching that goes on there. But with these few giants in the ring, how can new, smaller sites and apps make their way into consumers’ hearts? Well, there
are a few newcomers who are looking to shake things up and assert themselves as dominant sources for connecting people.
In one corner we have Hinge, a dating app that started out as a website back in 2011. Its creator, Jeff McLeod, had his idea to connect people through Facebook and friends of friends a year before Tinder came out, and despite its rapid growth, he really doesn’t care about his biggest competitor. Hinge is an app that uses Facebook to connect people who have mutual friends, and uses this as a way to draw in users; its just like real life, only on your mobile device. This adds credibility, and is less creepy than Tinder can be. Don’t most people meet potential dates by meeting friends of friends? You would trust your friend when they recommend someone they know to you, wouldn’t you?
McLeod’s app does this, only you don’t have to be invited to a dinner party or get together in order to be connected with someone. This is what he is banking on, and believes it will help him in the long run, as he thinks Tinder will be the new MySpace, with his app being the dating version of Facebook. Despite the large amount of Tinder users out there, Hinge knows you will get tired of failed relationships and odd hookups and will run to your friends for assistance; only now there is an app that will do the suggesting for you.
Next up is Pure, which, in a nutshell, is an app made explicitly for the explicit, people who use it are looking for sex from people in their general location and want it now. In terms of hookup apps, this one gives Tinder a run for its money. Unlike Tinder, it doesn’t require you to login via Facebook, so you don’t have to worry about your reputation being altered when you happen to come across someone you may know. The information you enter on the app is only available to other users for an hour; it is all pretty minimal in terms of displaying yourself to others, which is pretty convenient because you will be hoping to reveal more to them later (lol).
There is a significant catch though, which can slow down the rate of hook ups you were hoping to go on; as a new user you are given five tickets, which are free passes to use the app. These passes make your information available to other users for only an hour, so you better use them wisely, unless you are a hook up professional (hopefully not the paid, highly illegal kind). Once those passes are used up (which won’t take long if you suck), you will have to buy more. So you’re basically paying for sex, but if you are using this app that probably doesn’t affect your conscience that much.
Once you’ve made a post by using your pass, you will have one hour for others to see it (hopefully) and tap “Yes” or “No” on your account. If anyone says “No” you will never know about it, but if you get a “Yes” then you get a notification. If you display attraction back to them, you can see more pictures they may have, and you can send them a message. All of this will have to happen quickly though, so you better be ready if you get a match. For an app with a beautiful and clean UI, it is quite dirty.
Rounding off the list is Coffee Meets Bagel, a free app that uses Facebook to help you find your mate. The main feature of this app is that you only get one match per day, and this is in hopes of providing users with higher quality matches than you would find on Tinder, and maybe even Hinge. Once matched, users have 24 hours to send a message to their match; otherwise it fades away and the next day brings you another potential mate. Users of this app are more focused on long-term relationships, and want something a bit more serious than finding the nearest person who is willing to have casual sex. The matches you make on this app have some credibility like on Hinge, as they are friends of your friends on Facebook (although not all matches have shared friends).
The makers of Coffee Meets Bagel, three brilliant sisters who moved to the US from South Korea when they were teens, intended for you to focus on one match at a time, rather than dealing with messaging multiple people at once to get to know them. With this in mind, they hope users will have better interactions with their connections and will be more likely to go on dates and form romantic relationships. If you get five matches on Tinder you all think are great, who are you going to choose? With Coffee Meets Bagel, you don’t have to; you get high-quality matches (in the app your matches are called “Bagels”) one at a time, and if one doesn’t pan out, that's fine; you get another chance at a home run the next day.
It might seem like main competitors in the dating site market are not going to lose their footing anytime soon, but with time apps like the ones mentioned above will begin to gain momentum and will start to change the landscape. There will always be young, single people looking for an app or site to help them find a connection or even just a one night stand, and preferences will continually change. It is up to the little guys to do the changing, to alter stigmas or change social norms. Tinder caused some waves once it arrived, and before we know it an app like Coffee Meets Bagel or Hinge will be the go-to choice for singles. Trends can make or break anything, and users dictate those trends. This time, the apps might be doing it themselves.