Dating apps put a lighter, faster-moving spin on the traditional online dating scene. But while it’s certainly fun to make a flick judgment on the profile on your smartphone — swipe left, left, left, right, left — there are a couple of caveats to think about before you take your dating game mobile.

To an extent, apps can be more intrusive than using a desktop service, particularly if you receive notifications every time someone expresses interest in you or sends a flirty little message. If you’re new to dating apps, just remember that they can be overwhelming at first, and you should adjust your notifications accordingly.

There’s also an issue of scale. You may be tired of the old standbys such as Match, OkCupid or Tinder, but the popularity of those services makes it more likely to find a variety of people there. It can be daunting to weed through thousands of profiles on the big sites. But on smaller networks you may find the fish you threw back returning to you again and again. With that in mind, here are alternatives to the more popular dating apps — and their pros and cons.

Hinge searches your Facebook connections. (Apple/Courtesy Josh Kocin)

The Grade rates its daters. (Apple/The Grade)

Hinge, which started in Washington before moving its offices to New York, relies on your personal connections to make a romantic link. The app looks at your friends on Facebook, and combs through their friends to search for the right match. Think of it as a digital version of your friends saying they have this guy/gal you have to meet — without the awkward obligation of a blind date.

That said, this isn’t the app for you if you want to meet people who are outside your social circles. The app relies heavily on Facebook, which means that factors such as where you went to school or the places you’ve worked come into play most often. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, you might want to try elsewhere.

Free, for iOS and Android.
Ratings: Apple, (541 ratings); Google Play, (1,031 ratings).


The Grade is a new app that promises to separate the chaff from the wheat by assigning each users’ profile a grade of A-plus through F. The red pen comes out when you misbehave — a move that will hopefully penalize the trolls on dating sites who seem to live solely to harass the people they supposedly find attractive.

Users are graded on “popularity,” “responsiveness” and “message quality”; those attributes are then weighted for an overall grade.

And the app is pretty picky. An algorithm will even look at things such as your grammar and spelling.

If your overall grade slumps for too long, you’re out. Only the strong make it on The Grade.

Free, for iOS.

Rating: , 78 ratings.

How About We users propose date ideas. (Apple/How About We)

Tastebuds matches are based on music. (Apple/Tastebuds)

HowAboutWe gets points for creativity. The concept is that you rate people based on their ideas for a first date — whether it’s a cliched walk on the beach or a tandem skydive — and you can tell people if you’re “intrigued” or not. From there, you can send messages to those with date ideas you’re really interested in.

But to get the most out of the app, users have to pay up — $28 for one month, or $100 for a year — to access features such as unlimited messaging, or the ability to see who has viewed your profile. That’s probably a real turn-off for most people. So while it’s a fun app to dabble in, HowAboutWe requires quite the commitment if you want to take it to the next level.

Free (but kinda not really) for iOS
and Android.
Ratings: Apple, (2,886 ratings); Google Play, (4,203 ratings).


Tastebuds offers another out-of-the-box way to meet people: based on music preferences. The theory is lifted straight from John Cusack in the first half of “High Fidelity.” The app looks at the songs, artists and albums you like and tries to match you to people with similar taste. The profile questions here are really fun to answer: “My favorite band when I was 13 was ...” “My dream concert would be ...”

Obviously if you aren’t a music lover — or have never described a singer as your “spirit animal” — this app probably isn’t for you. But if you think music is the food of love, then give it a shot and see what plays out.

Free, for iOS.

Rating: (28 ratings).

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