Did you know that Google’s ‘Year in Search’ survey for 2016, showed that 50 percent more Indians were using the internet to find dating partners? Dating-related searches were up by 50 percent and dating app downloads increased by 53 percent as well, and the numbers have likely gone up since then. With such a surge in interest, it is clear that online dating is really catching on as a trend, and more and more people are turning to the internet in search of their soulmate. That's not just the India story but a global story.
In 2018, the revenue from online dating is $1.38 billion worldwide so far, as reported by Statista. USA tops the charts at $590.2 million, accounting for almost half of revenues, followed by China ($129.3 million), the UK ($97.5 million), and Germany ($74.5 m).
There is little doubt that everyone is looking for romance, love or a soulmate, but some have it tougher than others. Many dating websites/apps have too much focus on “the norm”, with little to no offerings for people on the fringes of the mainstream. Love is supposedly blind, but going by the pictures one sees on dating apps such as Tinder, it doesn’t look like anyone is chasing anything other than perfection, or trying to be anything other than perfect.
If you have a disability or are from the LGBTQ community, or even simply not living in the metros, it’s likely that mainstream dating platforms have little opportunity for you to find love. However, that’s where technology comes to the rescue.
We looked around the world and found some unique apps that are bringing different people together. From the visually changed and the disabled, men and women in the military to pets, everyone has an opportunity to find love with these platforms:
Inclov an Indian based app is the world’s “first matchmaking app focusing on people with disability and health disorders to find a life partner”. The platform was co-founded by Kalyani Khona and Shankar Srinivasan in January 2016 to cater to the needs of people with disabilities and health disorders and helps them find love. Inclov is also accessible to people who are visually impaired, colourblind, and with retina disorders through its screen reader and talkback features. The app has an offline meetup platform for its users, called Social Spaces, that allows them to interact with other members at ease. The app is available on iOS as well as Android (nearly 50,000 downloads).
Glimmer is another social and relationship app that focuses on the helping the specially-abled connect with each other. Available for the Android and iOS devices, this platform was founded by Geoffrey Anderson, a Chicago-based entrepreneur. He was inspired to create Glimmer after interacting with his brother, who suffered from cognitive disabilities. Geoffrey says that Glimmer instils a feeling of hope. It makes finding love possible for those who have had traumatic brain injuries or suffer from afflictions like Down’s Syndrome and Autism.
100% for pet owners, Twindog which is now Tindog is the first social app for dog lovers. Started by American Julien Muller CEO of Holidog, who says that, "Dogs bring so much joy and love, that they really have the power to connect us." The app is available on both the iTunes App Store and Google Play, where it has over 50,000 downloads. This brings together dog owners to socialise and enable them to find playdates and suitable mates for their dogs, and in the process, for themselves. This location-based app helps its users bond over their shared love for canines. You can enter the details of your dog and create their profile along with yours on the platform. Tindog has been gaining popularity in France, the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.
Tastebuds is a popular London-based app that helps you find a match based on common tastes in music. It was founded by Alex Parish and Julian Keenaghan, who were both musicians and passionate about music, and wanted a great way for music lovers to find their soulmates. With Tastebuds, you could find your musical match, no matter what you like to listen to, from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Chet Faker. The app is powered by algorithms that find matches based on an individual's response to multiple questions about their favourite songs, concerts, dancing likes, etc. It is available on iOS with an embedded linkage to iTunes.
MilitaryCupid is a dating app available on Google Play and as a website that caters to those in the military. It has over 600,000 civilian and armed forces members from around the world. Founded by Andrew Bolton, it is a venture under the Cupid Media network, which hosts almost 35 different kinds of dating websites based on religion, ethnicity, lifestyle, and special interests.
With the tagline “city folks do not get it”, FarmersOnly.com is a dating app exclusively for farmers, ranchers, and country folks. Aimed at users from US and Canada, it functions on the premise that urban folks cannot relate to the farming lifestyle. Launched in 2005, FarmersOnly also aims to tackles issues of isolation and finding companionship in the outskirts of metropolises and rural areas. With an estimated 6 million users, the platform was founded by Jerry Miller who is a farmer himself and understands the difficulties of social seclusion and feeling left out when it comes to dating opportunities online.
OkCupid is one of the world’s biggest online dating platforms, OKC (as it is popularly called) was founded in 2004 by Chris Coyne, Christian Rudder, Sam Yagan, and Max Krohn, who also co-founded reference website SparkNotes. OkCupid has a thriving international community (the site claimed 3.5 million active users as of September 2010), but what sets it apart is the level of customisation and research it offers. From a matching algorithm that relies on extensive quizzing to deduce compatibility to allow the option to not only openly display multiple sexual orientations but even look for people with specific orientations, OKC’s level of personalisation is almost bewildering in its choices. Combined with a messaging system that tries its best to keep spam out of your inbox and a recent update that forces users to use first names in an effort at transparency makes this one of the relatively most popular apps for members of the LGBTQ community, where they can express their sexual orientations without necessarily being vilified for it.
Thanks to technology, people from all spectra of life now have the opportunity to find love – geographies, cultures, physical/mental state of health, and sexual orientation no bar. This Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the role of technology in being an enabler for everyone, everywhere.