Best dating apps UK: From free to paid, Tinder to Happn and straight to gay and lesbian | #facebookdating | #tinder | #pof


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The Christmas holidays can bring bundles of joy or cause outward dread from singletons. On the plus side, you can have a lot of fun at the party, but on the downside, you will have to deal with questions from inquisitive members of the family asking if next year is when you’re going to finally settle down.

Dating apps are one of the most popular ways to meet people. According to a study released a few months ago, heterosexual couples are more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through personal contacts and connections – with 39 per cent of American adults meeting a partner online in 2017, compared with 22 per cent in 2009. 

With so many dating apps to choose from and so many potential partners out there, here’s how to navigate the virtual dating landscape in a bid to find modern love. 


Badoo: to meet anyone

Launched by Russian tech entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, Badoo is the biggest dating app in the world. The app launched in 2009, three years before Tinder, and it now has 380 million+ customers, operates in 190 countries and is available in 47 different languages.

In 2017, Badoo launched a facial recognition feature which allows users to upload an image of a person they like, whether that’s a celebrity or someone they know, and find other Badoo users who look similar.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

Bumble: to meet the nice guy

Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder of Bumble (Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for Diane von Furstenberg)

Bumble’s USP is that it challenges female users to make the first move, basically eliminating the bro-culture of other dating platforms. In traditional apps, when women match with guys, the unspoken rule is that they hesitate to initiate a conversation for fear of seeming weird or desperate. On Bumble, women have no choice in the matter.

Bumble’s founder Whitney Wolfe told the Standard that her feminist matchmaking tool is designed to reset the “heteronormative rules in our current landscape”, giving women the power to message their matches without stigma.

The app wants to ensure people are safe when they’re swiping which is why in 2019, it launched a new Private Detector feature which uses AI to detect unsolicited pictures. 

Download on iOS and Google Play Store 

Bristlr: if you like your men hairy (or you are a hairy man)

Do you like beards? Do you sport a beard? Do you exclusively date men with beards? Then listen up, because this is the app for you. Bristlr is basically a niche dating pool of exclusively bearded men, and people who want to date them.

People of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome. It’s even open to those who are simply beard-curious.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store 

Chappy: for Mr Right

Chappy made headlines in 2016 as the new gating app for gay men. Made in Chelsea’s Ollie Locke co-founded the app, alongside Jack Rogers and Max Cheremkhin. Chappy is also backed by Whitney Wolfe.

The app has a ‘Chappy Scale’, offering Mr. Right as well as Mr.Right now. As well, it wants to make gay dating a safe space, by verifying users through Facebook and only featuring images of a Chappy user’s face.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

Coffee Meets Bagel: to meet ‘The One’

Coffee Meets Bagel is all about “meaningful connections” rather than one-off swipes (Coffee Meets Bagel )

It’s been described as “the anti-Tinder” – and with good reason too. Coffee Meets Bagel’s radical focus is on the quality of matches it offers, rather than an endless sea of faces you find yourself vacantly swiping through elsewhere. Every day, you’ll be offered just one single ‘holy grail’ match based on information you’ve already inputted on your tastes, preferences and hobbies.

Don’t like what you see? Hold your horses, wait until tomorrow. No one said true love was easy to find.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store 

Do I Date: for rating dates

Do I Date is one of the newest dating apps on the scene, which sees users leaving reviews for the people they’ve dated, including a star rating. The app’s founders Terry Amsbury and Jamie Forsyth say it’s about adding transparency to online dating.

Received a dick pic or found out the guy has two girlfriends? Leave a review. Had a great time with a lovely girl and want to date them again? Let them know.

Download on iOS

Grindr: if you’re a man looking to meet a man

Before there was Tinder, there was Grindr. Having first launched in 2009, the app is credited with being the precursor to the current swathe of digital dating apps.

Things to note: it’s an all-male dating app for both gay and bisexual men, it uses your mobile device’s location-based services to show you the guys closest to you who are also on surfing the app and it’s most popular in London, meaning you’re probably living in the best city to try it out.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store 

Happn: to meet someone at your local coffee shop

Got your eye on your local barista? Get on Happn. The French app plays on natural serendipity by flagging mutual interests in real time.

It works as simply as this: every time you cross paths with someone in real life, their profile shows up on your timeline. It captures other users within a 250m radius of your own smartphone, giving you a cross-section of Londoners around you – and potentially your coffee house crush.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

Hater: for hating

Dream of finding the person who hates the same things as you? Then Hater is the dating app for you.

Instead of faces, you match with people depending on topical talking points, whether that’s your feelings on Trump or Putin, or rage-inducing topics like slow walkers. 

Intrigued? Sign up.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

Her: if you’re a woman looking to meet a woman

Originally launched as ‘Grindr for girls’, Robyn Exton’s LGBTQ dating app has grown to be the biggest community for lesbian, bisexual and queer women worldwide. The app mixes dating and social networking, with a timeline to read the news, find out what’s happening in your city and make connections.

Meet your soulmate or just meet a new group of friends. The choice is yours.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store 

Hinge: to meet someone sort-of-‘IRL’

Hinge encourages users to start conversations with questions and prompts (Hinge)

Don’t want to tell your friends or future children that you met on Tinder? Hinge wants to help people find real relationships – not just sex. Instead of being matched with strangers in a nearby area, Hinge matches its users with friends of friends.

The app uses a combination of AI and algorithms to help people find who is going to be right for them. A We Met feature follows up after the initial match to see if users went on a date, and if so, how it went. Results so far have shown that the algorithm is eight times more likely to lead to a date than other apps. 

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

Lumen: for over-50s

The next dating space to bet on? Dating for over-50s. There are around 80 million single men and women over 50 around the world and they now have their own dating app in the form of Lumen.

Lumen has been designed to provide a safe and age-appropriate dating community. Images go through a verification process to prevent fake profiles and cat-fishing. Badoo’s Andrey Andreev has even invested in the platform.

Download on iOS and Android

Muzmatch: to meet Muslims

Shahzad Younas is the founder and CEO of Muzmatch (Daniel Hambury/@stellapicsltd)

Muzmatch wins the award for the best dating ads on the tube, including ‘Halal, is it meet you’re looking for’, and ‘You had me at Halal’. Genius. As you can probably guess, the basis for Muzmatch is to find fellow Muslims to date and get married too – so far 15,000 couples have tied the knot through the app. 

The user interface looks similar to Tinder and verifies you using your phone number and a selfie, not a Facebook account. There’s also the option to choose to keep your photos blurred until you match with someone, though the app says profiles with visible photos receive 300 per cent more matches.

Download on iOS and Android 

Raya: to meet a celebrity

Ever wanted to date a celebrity? This ‘illuminati Tinder’ app is the place to go if you’re after a bedfellow with money and fame. Cara Delevingne, Ruby Rose and Elijah Wood are all reported to be members of Raya, the world’s most exclusive dating app.

Getting on there, however, is harder than finding a great date. You’ll have to be very beautiful, very successful and have 5,000-plus Instagram followers to get in. It’s basically the Soho House of dating. Good luck.

Download on iOS

Salt: to meet Christians

Like Muzmatch, Salt’s USP depends on religion: helping Christians to find and date one another online.

The app launched at the end of 2017 by an all-Christian team who were disillusioned about trying to meet other Christians in the wild. In particular, the team behind Salt hope to make Christian dating “a little less awkward and a lot more fun.”

The design of the app is gorgeous, all muted greys and subtle pinks, so you can download and look for love in style. 

Download on iOS and Android 

The Inner Circle: if you’re looking for a date with money

The Inner Circle is all about bringing together “like-minded singles” (The Inner Circle)

This controversial dating website and app initially billed itself as a network for “like-minded” individuals; a “high-end”, “exclusive community” with an “impressive following of successful and attractive people.” 

Its since toned down the exclusive marketing, and updated the design, and appears to have been fairly successful — the app is now active in over 50 cities around the world with over 2 million members. 

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

The League: for the elites

If you can’t get on Raya, then you can also try The League, dubbed Tinder for elites. It’s a selective dating app for young, successful individuals, which first launched in San Francisco before making its way to London at the end of last year.

You have to be between 24 and 36 to be a member on the app and many of the members work in careers such as finance, technology, consulting and fashion.

Download on iOS

Tinder: for the casual hook up

Arguably the most well-known dating app, Tinder was once the place for social introverts to meet their significant other. Now it’s a tool for swiftly finding an insignificant one-night stand – whether you’re straight, gay, bi, transgender or gender-fluid.

In 2015, Vanity Fair declared Tinder as the ultimate place that twentysomethings go to “hit it and quit it”, claiming that the app was solely responsible for a “dating apocalypse”. While die-hard romantics might agree, others say the app has revolutionised the process of hunting down no-strings fun at relatively little expense. The tool basically works by swiping yes or no based on each user’s picture.

Not sure where to start? These are the 30 most right-swiped Brits on Tinder right now.

Download on iOS and Google Play Store

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