To properly write about dating apps, one needs to be single, so I’m taking one for the team and getting divorced. To those that are finding out this way, I’m sorry Mom and Dad, I meant to tell you.* To celebrate the first time in years I haven’t had to buy flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day, I’m looking at iPhone apps that could ultimately cause me to end up buying several sets of flowers and chocolates.
I’m not going into the sites (there are other resources for that, and this is TheAppleBlog, after all) themselves, but rather an overview of how the apps themselves work.
eHarmony. Without getting into a review of dating sites in general, I’ll just say I found the entire experience at eHarmony to be the best. Their guided communication method helps you figure out if a person passes some a self-defined litmus test before proceeding. The eHarmony app is a replacement for the full website; in fact, likely due to some Flash error on my Mac, the iPhone app was the only way I could upload my photo. I did have a few weird issues, though. Sometimes, the eHarmony Mail wouldn’t go through on the iPhone. It would send it, but then it would disappear from my sent mail items, apparently having gone nowhere at all. Overall, it was a great experience, though. The app is also a Universal app, and I love how it app opens to a dashboard instead of directly into the Mail view (unlike other apps — read on).
Plenty of Fish. Plenty of Fish’s app seems to play to the site’s focus of immediate communication — unlike eHarmony, Plenty of Fish starts off with messaging your prospective suitor. When you launch the app, you’re brought directly to your mailbox. Unfortunately. the app isn’t really well suited for messaging. The font is a tad smaller than it is in the iOS Mail app, and the overall feel of the message pane is cramped. They’d be better off just copying the iOS Mail app’s interface entirely. Also, when browsing photos, you can’t swipe to get to get to the next photo, you have to use buttons instead. It feels awkward and unintuitive.
Match.com. In terms of usability, I found the Match app to be about halfway between eHarmony and Plenty of Fish. This is fitting since the site itself seems to be halfway between as well. Both Match and eHarmony are subscription sites. Unlike eHarmony, the free portion of the site allows you to view photos, however you need to subscribe to go through the communication process. The app itself is very well put together. I actually found searching for potential matches easier via the app than the web site. Like Plenty of Fish the app defaults to the Mail view on launch, which isn’t ideal in my opinion.
Two websites that purport to focus on geeks (gk2gk.com and sweetongeeks.com) don’t have apps. To me, this is missing a potentially huge segment of their user base. While not everyone who owns an iPhone is a geek, I’m willing to bet a fair amount of people who consider themselves geeks have iPhones. Also, Ashley Madison — a site that caters to people looking to have an affair — has an iOS app but I’m not sure that falls under the gamut of this review.
The Morning After
Of the three apps, I enjoyed eHarmony the most. It was easy to use, and it was easy to keep track of all the activity going on with my account. However, both Match.com and eHarmony are subscription sites, and eHarmony is the most expensive option. Plenty of Fish is free, but as with anything else in life, consider the adage “you get what you pay for.”
* Ed. note: The author’s marital status was not a requirement for this post.
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