Whether you’re celebrating or lamenting the outcome of the big game, it’s important you don’t linger on the results for too long because it’s almost Valentine’s Day. That’s right, time to hit the gym and work off that third helping of buffalo wings because the international day of love is bearing down on us fast. But what does Valentine’s day mean in 2016? In a relatively short amount of time (Tinder is only 3 years old), technology has had a huge impact on how we look for and even define love. Last year, Vanity Fair declared dating dead, and pointed the finger at Tinder (mostly), blaming the dating app for the proliferation of “hookup culture.” The article illustrated the problems young daters face when technology fuses short attention spans with too many options. Tinder was quick to respond/overreact on Twitter, posting over 30 tweets defending their service by saying they bring people together in a way that’s different and somehow more pure than simply facilitating casual sex.
No matter what side of the argument you side with, it’s hard to deny that social media hasn’t had a profound effect on how we look for love in the modern age. If anything, the Ashley Madison hacks in August of last year shed light on a behavior that is becoming more common (and possibly more accepted). Perhaps that is why non-monogamous relationships are beginning to become more popular, with apps like 3nder and more recently OkCupid now facilitating the search for additional mates. According to the company’s data, 24 percent of its users are “seriously interested” in group sex. Forty-two percent would consider dating someone already involved in an open or polyamorous relationship. Both numbers represent increases of 8 percentage points from five years ago.
So, there you have it. If you’ve been on the sidelines for a while, it’s probably fair to say that the dating landscape has changed a bit since your last soirée. Fear not, though. It’s never been easier to meet a person (or a group of persons, if that’s your thing). We’ve compiled a roundup of the latest dating app news so that you’ll have a better idea what you’re doing when you head out into the fray this Valentine’s Day. Good luck out there.
- Conversations Becoming More Visual: The popular hookup app is working with Giphy, so all you have to do is tap the blue button above your keyboard in the Tinder app to access Giphy’s huge database of GIFs for every situation. You can browse the trending section to send something you like, or search the database for a specific GIF.
- Profiles Replaced By Inspiration Boards: Dreamcliq is a dating site that takes the traditional online dating profile and turns it on its head: Users of the site create profiles from photos only, creating a constantly evolving inspiration board that, in many ways, resembles one you might see on Pinterest.
- Livestreaming Fashion Shows: Grindr will live-stream the fall 2016 men’s wear show of J. W. Anderson. Users of the app will receive a link and a code to stream the video, which will not actually play in the app itself, but in phone and tablet browsers. The show is the first time Grindr is experimenting with fashion content, and most likely not the last.
- No More Outdated Photos: A Swedish dating site called 7Heaven wants to ruin my internet game by only hosting photos of members that were taken in the last six hours. It can check timestamps. Don’t even try to trick it; it’s smarter than us. Users can upload new ones as they want to, but only if they were recently snapped.
- ‘Hot Or Not’ Service For Selfies: Swiss dating app Blinq has added an attractiveness assessment feature to help its users pick the photos that show them at their best. The company also has a few location-based tricks up its sleeve, such as a feature that shows users which are the bars and clubs in their city popular with singles, and a real-time hyperlocal Bluetooth beacon powered feature that can flag up if any of a user’s current matches are in the same bar right now.
- Knowing When To Start Swiping: January 3rd is Tinder’s biggest day– both the most app downloads as well as the most active users. To coincide with that growth, some Tinder users received a new kind of push notification that read “Wow! Tinder is on fire in your area! Chances of a match are 3X higher right now [flame emoji].” The new notification is a first for Tinder in that it alerts users when the organic match rate—the number of swipes it takes to get a match—in their specific geographic area increases.
- Fitbits Improve Matchmaking: Once, a dating app that takes a more human approach to online matchmaking, has introduced Fitbit and Android Wear integration to help users follow their hearts. Currently available in the U.K., France, and Spain, and claiming a user base of 600,000, the app can now be sync with the aforementioned fitness trackers to display the user’s real-time heart rate in reaction to each potential match.
- Want To Netflix & Chill?: Is your idea of a perfect date a night on the couch, ordering delivery, and binge-watching your favorite series? Then Netfling may be the dating app for you. Netfling gathers data from your Netflix account, figures out your most watched TV-shows and films, and presents possible suitors with the same taste in pop culture.
- Party Bus for Single Stoners: High There, a dating app for weed smokers, is launching a mobile party bus that can be summoned on demand by Denver-area stoners. The bus will make stops at local events, dispensaries, hotspots, and, of course, restaurants. The bus solves two problems frequently encountered in states with legal weed: the lack of legal locations to partake in marijuana, and the risks of driving under the influence.
- Dating App for Bacon Lovers: Oscar Mayer’s launched a dating app built for people who dig on swine. You download the app, specify your bacon preferences in a customizable profile, upload photos and start swiping your greasy digits through pics of local fellow bacon lovers. Depending on how “Sizzl-ing” they are, you can message and meet up with other Sizzl users, based on a mutual-matching system, for what Oscar Mayer is calling “bacon-wrapped dates.”
- Women Initiate Conversations: Bumble puts women in the driving seat. Similar to Tinder, it works by only connecting people who have both opted in by swiping right on each others profiles. In the case of a heterosexual matching, the woman must start the conversation within 24 hours before the connection disappears. The same rules don’t apply for same-sex or friend connections though. In those instances, either person can start the conversation, but the connections still only remain active for 24 hours.
- Men Must Be Invited: Wyldfire, an invite-only dating network where women are the gatekeepers — female users can sign up freely, but any man on the app has to be invited, theoretically creating a network of only women-selected desirable, dateable, single men.
- Gender Neutral Dating: Siren takes a gender neutral approach to dating. You can identify as male, female or a “nonbinary person.” You can also choose to date people who fall under these categories—along with people who identify as transgender. As an app created by two women, Siren also includes features that make women feel more safe. For example, users can choose to keep their profile photo blurred until they choose to make a connection.
- Losing The Label: Her, a social network for lesbian and queer women. According to founder Robyn Exton “there is a large and growing number of women that don’t want to take a label, women who may have previously considered themselves straight, but are now in a relationship with a woman. This is something we’ve seen with the big growth in the ‘no label’ option of users in the app.” The app is for women who want to meet a woman for whatever reason. Her provides content and events that it hopes will better match people together in an effort to form friendships.
- Swipe Right For Friendship: VINA applies the Tinder approach to matchmaking platonic relationships between women. You’re required to connect your Facebook account—something that not only confirms your identity, but also confirms that you’re female. Once you’re connected, you are asked to fill out a quick six-question quiz detailing some of your personality traits. You’ll only be shown those who exist within one degree of separation from your mutual Facebook friends. When you’re paired based on a mutual interest, the app might even make a suggestion on what your first activity as new friends might be.