by Samantha Chang & Rin Sua
Back when Tinder first came out, it was met with much stigma. It went unsaid, but the only reason anyone would use Tinder is if they were lonely, desperate or sleazy. Since then, dating apps have seeped into mainstream use as they’re now simply a matter of practicality in this fast paced world.
For one, they simplify the dating dance and save time. This study found that people who purchased and used time-saving services reported higher life satisfaction than those who didn’t ⎼ we have our Foodpanda and Grabpay, why not GrabBae to make love a little more convenient?
You also get the chance to meet people you would never ordinarily cross paths with, which is a great way to step outside your social bubble. It is, after all, the golden age of choice – we don’t have to settle for partners based on proximity ever again (and that’s the only leg up we’ve got over baby boomers).
If you’ve never tried a dating app, getting on one may seem a bit intimidating or confusing (some apps travel far and wide to provide more than the simple left and right swipes of Tinder). We’re here to make it less of a pain by giving you a taste of 5 popular dating apps, which may help you decide the most suitable experience you’re looking for.
Disclaimer! This goes without saying, but our opinions reflect our own experiences (as ditzy, young Chinese females), which may vastly differ from yours.
The criteria for our review are as follows:
User-friendliness & Design:
Alright, let’s start dating!
1. Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB)
How it works:
- Users fill in their facts (e.g. height, ethnicity, education, occupation); able to filter down matches based on these criteria
- Consists of 3 tabs: Messages, Discover Page & Suggested page
- Messages: Where connected people can start talking to each other
- Discover page:
- Displays the most swiped-on singles in the area. Users can buy their attention with ‘beans’ (in-app currency which you can purchase with real money).
- Also shows you people who don’t fit your ‘criteria’ but have Liked you
- Suggested page: Generates 6 “specially-curated” matches (i.e. your type) for you every 24 hours; likes here are free.
- Since more men tend to use dating apps, CMB tries to rebalance the gender ratio by being women-centered: men swipe first, and women decide whether to reciprocate. This applies for those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum as well.
- Chat rooms only stay open for a week to spur you to exchange contacts ASAP.
If you’re looking for someone to impress your relatives at family reunions, you’re in the right place. The hint is in the app’s name – its users can actually afford coffee and bagels in this economy.
The app can feel a bit resume-like at times because of the demographic that flocks to it. Bios tend to read a bit like CVs; you get the feeling that they’re catching up on their love life after a lifetime of workaholism, but don’t know how to get unstuck from job search mode (on that note, maybe LinkedIn should consider tacking on a partner search option). The upside of that is that you’re more likely to find people of similar backgrounds and interests, and they tend to be well-spoken and interesting.
Regarding the 6-matches-a-day feature: officially, it’s to encourage match quality over quantity by making you carefully consider your matches. But I have a suspicion they’re just using the scarcity principle to make you likelier to swipe right.
It can be a plus if you dislike how dating apps have made matches feel ‘discardable’, or if you worry about spending too much time online. But it may be a drawback if you enjoy having more options, or if CMB hasn’t quite got your type down.
Speaking of which, part of how CMB chooses matches for you is through their algorithm, which sorts you into a ‘league’ based on the people who swipe on you. Caste system or the simple reality of dating? You decide.
My main gripe is the Discover page: the same individuals tend to appear there over and over again, so you unintentionally (and awkwardly) memorize their faces and profiles. Plus, I’m not sure how I feel about the app dangling people in front of us like fresh meat as an incentive to buy more beans.
Fun rating: 2/5
Serious rating: 4/5
User-friendliness & Design: 3.5/5
Best (worst) line received: “You must have low standards if you swiped on me.” Ouch, I thought we only traded traumas after the 3rd date?
Best bio: “I’m 6 foot 2 inches. That’s two measurements btw.” Swiped right out of pity.
How it works:
- Sources your matches from nearby users
- Main page of the app is set up to show you pictures first, and if interested, you can click to read their personal information
- Users can choose from a variety of options to describe their personality + interests, and even answer short questions that can act as an icebreaker
- Automatically shows the age and horoscope of your matches, and even tells you when your signs are compatible with each other
- Special feature that will generate random questions in chats
- You can choose between simple, conversational questions, to deeper, more personal questions.
- Questions are completely random, so the questions themselves can be hit-or-miss
The age-old joke about how everything is and can be made in China has seeped into the online dating world. Tantan is relatively easy to use, especially if you have had experience using tinder (not me though). It’s a relatively simple swipe-chat-meet formula, so it’s hard to go wrong with that. Not very personalised as compared to other apps, people mostly swiped on the basis of appearances (which means that you would still get likes without any personal information, as long as you’re considered attractive). Still, I would only recommend it if your dating preferences include lean Chinese boys, because apparently they flock to this particular app. It’s unlikely that you would see much diversity when swiping for the one (for life or for the night).
To be completely honest, being fluent in Mandarin Chinese helps in utilising the app to its full potential. Many users write their bio in Mandarin, and even more messages use the Chinese language. Of course you may request that they chat with you in English, but that may already hint at incompatibility. All in all, Tantan is geared towards a specific demographic, and may not be the best option for other groups.
As someone who is more fluent in English, I may be biased, but the conversations I had here leaned more towards meeting up right away, which is to say that it’s all quite surface level. Still, I’ve heard many success stories from this app, so maybe it’s all down to luck. Give it a go, this could be the app for you.
For fun rating: 2.5/5
Serious rating: 3/5
Concept: 2/5 (it’s basically tinder 2.0)
How it works:
- Displays compatibility score between users, which they generate by asking you a bunch of questions about your personality, views, preferences and interests
- The questions make for neat conversation starters; they range from serious and controversial, to pure fluff and Buzzfeed-esque
- Users whom you have a high match percentage with are more likely to appear in the swipe feed
- Shows how many people have liked you, although you can only see their profiles by purchasing the premium version
- Discovery page: allows you to explore questions answered by other users in the area. If they happen to mention a common interest, their profile will likely appear
- Allowed to slide into DMs before matching, which also increases your chance of being noticed
- Allowed to comment on a profile or an answered question
- Allowed to reset matches you’ve swiped left on before
Once saw a guy who answered 300+ questions – think he has more fun with the app than with his dates.
I enjoyed the personalized approach of this app because I’m a psychology nerd who loves analyzing people (and OK, admittedly – because I’m also extremely fussy). However, you may find the multitudes of questions cumbersome if you’re more easygoing about what you look for in a partner. Although you can specify whether you want something casual or serious, the set up of OkCupid is more geared towards finding the one.
This aspect of the app may especially attract people who enjoy sharing and discussing topics. In my experience, matches on OkCupid more frequently initiated conversations as compared to matches on other platforms; I also had my most interesting chats here. Even if you’re not on it for the dates, it’s a great storehouse of freely volunteered opinions and attitudes for you to trawl, in boredom. And if you always wanted a soapbox, here’s your chance.
Let’s just hope all this information won’t be used for evil (*cough* Facebook).
The app has a clean, simple design and is also available on desktop. Overall, it was a surprisingly positive experience.
For fun rating: 3.5/5
Serious rating: 4/5
User-friendliness & Design: 4/5
Concept: 5/5 (or 1/5, if you can’t care less about people’s opinions)
Best (worst) line received:
“If you teach me the guitar, I’ll teach you how to make me happy.” Maybe I should teach you manners.
How it works:
- Uses the same swipe-and-chat formula that we’ve come to know and love about dating apps
- The app asks you a few questions about your details and preferences (height, body type, sexuality, etc.) and displays it under your bio
- Gives you the option to upload as many pictures as you like
- You can even upload “private” pictures (that is, pictures that are accessible only after you give permission to specific matches)
- Also acts as a platform for livestreams
- Users who livestream apparently get in-app rewards that help increase their popularity in the app, thus increasing their visibility and their matches.
- Shows users exactly how popular they are on a scale of very low, low, moderate, high, and very high
- Shows how many people liked you and visited your profile
- With the premium feature, you can see exactly who those users are
Two words to describe my experience with Badoo – validation central. The transparency of the likes and visits really helps to boost confidence, although there is a high chance that your matches would get lost. It could get overwhelming when there is a huge influx of likes and messages, but I can assure you that it won’t get boring. Even so, it really all comes down to face value, as there is not much else to go off of. There is little personalisation, so unless it is discussed during chats, your personality is largely ignored by other users. In my personal experience, this app is mainly used to find hookups and casual dating partners.
A feature of this app is that people can message you regardless of whether or not you matched with them, which means that you don’t actually have to swipe to chat with people who would be interested in you. However, this also means that it gets hard to filter through messages of those you like from those that you don’t. Badoo seems to know of this inconvenience, so the app will periodically ask you if you would want to pay premium to turn off this feature. Trust me, it’s really not necessary to go premium.
The demographic of users are more diverse on this app, ranging from Chinese, Malays, Indians, and even foreigners currently in Malaysia. If something casual is what you’re looking for, or if you want to check off “interracial” from your bucket list, this is the app for you.
For fun rating: 4/5
Serious rating: 1.5/5
How it works:
Tinder. The OG dating app. At this point it’s a cultural phenomenon that needs no further introduction. The swipe-to-decide mechanism seen in so many other dating apps originated from Tinder. But if somehow you managed to survive university so far without having to “relegate” to Tinder, you may be interested to know that Tinder is one of the most user-friendly dating apps on the market. Just swipe to start!
Tinder uses a distance logistic to help source your matches for you, so your matches are usually in your general area at that specific moment. In simple terms, you would most likely only be shown users from your general area. Being in a university that’s hungry for love, this feature actually gives you more incentive to pay attention in class, unless you want to come across a classmate on the app while you’re supposed to be focusing on numbers.
The app has a relatively good ratio between races and preferences, and it seems that being the most popular dating app has its perks. The app also goes off of face value, as the bios do not reflect actual personality (much). As such, Tinder has gained a notorious reputation as a hookup app. However, as it with most other things, there can be exceptions.
One thing I’ve learned being on Tinder is that girls have it easier. Cute selfie pictures are enough to get the ball rolling, so if you got those, you’re good to go! Don’t worry if your finger slipped and you accidentally matched with someone, you can always unmatch them later.
For fun rating: 4/5
Serious rating: 1.5/5
Most memorable bios
“Here to get my heart broken so i can kick-start my weight-loss journey.” Swipe to help a guy out.
“Just need someone, tiada pape cuma ada hati untuk diberi 🙁 ” This has caution tape all over it.