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Have Smartphones Contributed to the Rise of Dating Apps?

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A recent article in The New York Times highlighted the increased popularity of dating apps, and how one in particular – Tinder – has changed the online dating game.

The proof is in the numbers. According to the most recent Pew study, 11% of American adults have used an online dating site or app. Back in 2005 when dating sites were becoming more popular, 44% of Americans felt this was a good way to meet people. But in 2013, thanks to dating apps like Tinder, 59% agree that online dating is a good way to meet.

Tinder claims it matches more than 12 million people per day, and processes more than a billion matches daily as well. This has sparked a surge of dating apps to flood the market, some of which have succeeded in growing a steady user base based on differentiating themselves from the so-called "hook-up app" (although utilizing the same Facebook profile-validation system). Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel limit the number of matches per day, forcing users to consider a match rather than mindlessly swiping left and right. The League markets its clientele – upscale and educated – to attract new users. And apps like LuLu and Bumble are female-centric, allowing the women to call the shots on which guys can message them – as well as how their dates rate according to other female daters.

The New York Times article suggests that Tinder's success might have caused some traditionally successful online dating sites such as Match.com to put more research and development into their mobile apps. But essentially, it was only a matter of time before smartphones – which are now used to access everything from email to Facebook to TV shows at any time, from anywhere – would be a good way to meet potential dates. After all, our phones are so much more accessible than our laptops. (Plus, Tinder’s game-like interface is much more fun, compared to slogging through endless questions and profile descriptions on an online dating site.)

Amarnath Thombre, president of Match.com in North America, says there has been a 35 percent increase in the people who use the Match app each month, and a 109 percent increase in the number of people who use only the app to log in to their Match account every month.

For now, daters seem to be choosing convenience over everything else – which might not be a bad idea. Dating apps help people get to the meetings and messages with their matches a lot more quickly than the algorithm process touted by traditional dating sites. But are daters wasting more time because filters aren’t in place?

One thing is for sure: dating apps are here to stay, until something more convenient comes along.