The dating game beyond Tinder: five other dating apps that our readers LOVE and why


If people aren't replying to your ice-breakers or if they're just being plain smug, these apps will redefine dating and love in the time of digital cholera. 

In an era when overeager fathers are still looking at unsuspecting men and women with a shaadi ka sehra in ads for matrimonial websites, Mallika Dua’s “Tinder aunty” looking at people through her “pearl necklace” was a welcome message to illustrate that digital can be leveraged for all the forty steps of meeting and dating that come before the ones you take around the pyre.

In the wiggle room between the “your place or mine?” conversation starter and matrimonial sites’ “your last name or mine?” game-enders – lie the millions of Indian millennials who may also like to discuss “your favourite film or mine” on their first dates – and our readers have pointed out just the right apps for most of these scenarios.

While Tinder remains the most popular app, found confirmedly on the phones of everyone in the dating circuit – Indian users have started dabbling with various other apps as well in order to have different kinds of experiences with the same pool of interesting strangers. These anonymous romantics have been kind enough to tell us what kind of communities each app has come to build.

Happn  “Love at first sight can actually turn into something here”

Happn, in my opinion, had the potential of leading the paradigm shift in the way traditional dating is being shaken and stirred with the advent of technology. It tracks your location in real time and shows you profiles of people you may have crossed paths with. So, that small-town girl and her city-boy taking the midnight train going anywhere now do not have to pander to the unrealistic standard of breaking the ice by breaking into a song. (well, in India, they still might, for a while – until the cellular network is fixed on the darned tracks. But Bollywood sure isn’t complaining about one of its major plot devices being taken away too soon.) And just like Tinder, you can only have conversations with people you have mutually swiped right with. But, in India, it has seen rather low adoption rates. “It’s great because you can track down, in real time, a person you ran into on a street and found attractive, but, not too many people are on it in India. So, the odds of that stranger you like actually being on Happn are not great,” says a user who remains hopeful that the app will take off someday.

Hinge  “You can’t be smug here”

In India, Hinge has emerged as somewhat of a fan-favourite and designated driver for Tinder, as the latter’s users flout the speed limit in swiping in order to cover more ground. The one major difference between Hinge and Tinder is that while the former finds suitors for you in your area, Hinge scours through your social circles on Facebook to connect you with friends of friends, and second-degree connections. The makers of the app insisted on this to make the matches more reliable, and work with the assumption that if the person is from the same social clique as you, you will probably have a lot more in common.

With respect to Hinge – and even Bumble, which we will delve into later – users told YourStory that they like the additional intel it provides about all the prospects, by way of having much more elaborate profiles. So, it helps getting a conversation started, with so many talking points. “Since the questions are so specific, you can't be smug so easily out there, as opposed to Tinder where you get to slap together literally all the coherent or incoherent thoughts that cross your mind into a bio!” a Hinge user tells us.

Three completely separate, unrelated users also gave us an eerily similar opinion that Hinge’s crowd, in general, seems to be more “refined and intellectual.” “I like it because it's got people with more substance. It has much better and filtered crowd as compared to Tinder,” a user of both apps told us.

Screenshots posted in the Play Store listings for (L to R): Coffee Meets Bagel, OkCupid and Hinge

Bumble — "This is great because girls almost never reply to ice-breakers"

Bumble is essentially Tinder, except, the women must be the one driving the Titanic – that is, breaking the ice. The plot thickens further – once there is a match, the girl is required to start the conversation within 24 hours, or the match will disappear, and never surface again. The 24-hour rule is sacrosanct – it applies to friendship matches and same sex matches as well, where there might be two females or none at all. And the way Tinder hands out one superlike a day to free users, Bumble hands out a hammer to the ticking time bomb for one lucky match that left you truly speechless – literally and figuratively.

In India, Bumble is only available on iOS.

OkCupid  “Oldie but a goldie”

OkCupid is an oldie but a goldie; however, it has been doing the rounds in India only recently. Cupid does not let you enter its free-to-use world, set in an app as well as a website, without putting a picture and filling out your bio. Tinder lacks this feature – so no wonder a sizeable amount of Tinder profiles look like LinkedIn profiles instead!

Further up, the app makes you answer a series of "match questions," to decode your traits, quirks, likes and dislikes, dreams, nightmares, how many dogs you would like running around in your front yard, etc. “OkCupid will give you a percentage of compatibility with other users by comparing your answers and importance levels to theirs,” points out a Quora user who posted a pretty calculated theory about OkCupid’s algorithm.

“(It) has an algorithm that determines how attractive you are. I'm not sure what metrics it uses to determine this, but I think it involves ratings from other users, how many views your profile gets, and the rate at which you get responses to your messages. OkCupid will therefore show you, on your homepage, people who are comparably attractive to you,” he further added.

Coffee Meets Bagel — “None of that unlimited swiping nonsense”

The insight for this is that men and women have very different styles of dating, and hence, need a differentiated service. “#LadiesChoice was thus born.” Coffee Meets Bagel has been positioned as a private and free online dating app “for singles looking for real relationships.” “Each day at noon, guys will receive up to 21 quality matches – known as “Bagels”. They are given the option to either like or pass. Then, Coffee Meets Bagel will curate the best potential matches for women among the men who expressed interest.

Women will choose who gets to talk to them among the quality men who already liked them. That’s right. No more guessing games! #LadiesChoice!” reads its description on their website.

“Because one gets limited swipes a day and is only sent compatible profiles to choose from, you can’t swipe like a damn bot on it, and are compelled to pick from people you genuinely take an interest in,” a user pointed out.



Updates from around the world