The smartphone is the best thing to ever happen to online dating. Swiping through profiles on your phone is so much sexier than finding dates on your computer like a dork. The more people feel comfortable dating online, the more chances there are for people to find love. Countless young singles have found fast dates thanks to the ubiquity of Tinder, while Bumble services those who want to let women make the first move. But which dating app should you use to soothe your lonely heart in these trying times?
Interface and Profiles
Tinder and Bumble both want to get you out there as soon as possible, so they don’t bog you down with long questionnaires or list of preferences the way some other dating apps do. The tradeoff is that there’s little room for profiles to express much of a person’s personality beyond looks, which is the point. Tinder just wants your name, age, gender, email, preferred age range, and local search radius size. Bumble wants your photo, name, age, and if you’re looking to date or just network and meet friends. It also asks you what gender you identify as, including Hijra, genderfluid, and two-spirit.
Although they both offer desktop apps (Tinder can turn into a spreadsheet for stealth dating at work), Tinder and Bumble both truly shine on Android or iOS devices. Tinder’s mobile interface is the one others draw most of their inspiration from. This applies not only to new rivals like Bumble, but also to old stalwarts like Match and eharmony. Seeing a big picture and either swiping right if you like it or left if you don’t is just an incredibly intuitive mobile dating interface. The “hot or not” nature may be a bit brutal and shallow, but it is effective. Even if you don’t use these apps you know what “swipe left” means.
Fortunately, there is more depth if you’re willing to look. Normally, Tinder only makes a connection if both people like each other. Then they can start messaging. However, sending a Super Like (you get one for free each day) immediately tells your potential date how interested you are in them. If you can’t immediately make up your mind, you can see more by checking out the entire profile. It’s not the most in-depth look at the person, but you can read their self-description and browse through more photos.
Bumble works a little differently. Dating apps are full of horror stories where hordes of men act creepy toward the female population. On Bumble, if you’re a man searching for women, all you can do is like her profile. It’s then up to the women to decide how far things go by responding or not. Even if a connection is made, men can only send a single free icebreaker and extend the connection another day. But if the woman drops out, it’s over. For same-sex couples and gender nonconforming people, the experience is more like a traditional dating app where anyone can make the first move.
Bumble’s in-depth profiles have more photos, a written summary of what the person is looking for, height, education level, pet ownership, politics, and answers to optional writing prompts like “Equality to me means…” and “My most recent act of kindness…” Tinder and Bumble both let you bolster your own profile by linking your Instagram and Spotify accounts.
As with any service that encourages you to meet strangers over the internet, safety is key when it comes to dating apps. You can share Tinder profiles with friends, not just as a laugh, but also to make sure other people can see who you’re meeting. Other robust safety features include real-time photo verification, sharing time and location details, and integration with Noonlight emergency services. Bumble’s entire structure adds another layer of safety to the online dating experiences. Giving this much power to women hopefully filters out the worst, impatient creeps. Bumble also uses A.I. to blur unsolicited nudes, averting another scourge of online dating.
Casual, youth-focused dating apps start out free to grow their audiences, but know that once users are hooked, nothing opens up wallets faster than the promise of a better love life.
Tinder has two premium subscription options: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. With Tinder Plus, you get unlimited likes, unlimited rewinds (or the ability to change your mind about a swipe), a free Boost each month (which shows your profile to more users), no ads, and the ability to swipe around the world. On top of all that, Tinder Gold adds the ability to see who already likes you and access to a curated list of Top Picks. Initially, Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold cost $19.99 per month and $29.99 per month, respectively. However, the price goes down the longer you stay committed. Individual Boosts ($3.99) and Super Likes ($4.99 for a pack of five) also get progressively cheaper the more you buy.
Despite its name, a premium Bumble Boost subscription won’t put your profile in front of more eyeballs. However, it will let you see who likes you, extend matches, and reconnect with expired matches. A one-week trial costs $8.99, the first month costs $24.99, and prices go down from there. You can also buy Bumble Coins for $1.99. These let you SuperSwipe profiles to let people know you’re so interested that you were willing to spend more money to prove it.
Dating was already awkward enough before COVID-19 forced everyone into their homes for months on end. Fortunately, dating apps know that physical distancing makes us yearn for social connections even more, and they have pivoted accordingly with various virtual dating features.
Tinder continues to test new video call functionality but the feature has yet to fully launch for all users. Tinder users can also match with more people from outside their immediate area with Tinder Passport for international lovers and Tinder U for college students. Bumble’s impressive features include video calls, audio notes alongside text messages, a blog full of social distance dating tips, and the ability to date in a wider radius. Just signal your interest in virtual dating by adding a badge to your profile.
A dating app’s success arguably hinges more on its cultural presence than its underlying technology, and nothing took over the culture (and personally changed the life of the this piece’s writer) like Tinder, our Editors’ Choice for casual mobile dating apps. However, your own personal background, like your gender, will also greatly color your online dating experience. So, it’s very possible that the women-led Bumble may be the superior option for you.