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Where to look for love (or a hookup) according to AI

After hearing one too many bad-date stories here in the office (note from the author: mostly supplied by myself), we turned to our software to solve the debate once and for all... which dating apps are the best, and which should be avoided?

To tackle the question, we used Luminoso Analytics to analyze 107,379 reviews of 16 popular dating apps spanning the past three years, which we pulled from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Our Analytics software applied artificial intelligence and natural language understanding to identify the key concepts being discussed in the reviews and to quantify how related a particular concept is to any given app (what we call “association scores”). We used those scores to rank each app on several different concepts, from attractiveness and romance, to hookups and app functionality.

Our findings were fascinating and a little unexpected.

First things first: Lust vs. love

Looking for something short and sweet on so-called “hookup apps” like Tinder or Grindr? You’re doing it wrong.

Turning to more established, pricier apps like eHarmony and Match to find love? Yeah, you’re doing it wrong too.

As it turns out, the same apps crop up for both getting laid and finding love. Is this because the same app hosts people who are looking for love and also those looking for something more casual? Or is it that a one-night stand can actually lead you to your dream partner? The reviews we analyzed suggest a mixture of both.

That said, the best apps for hookups and romance probably aren’t the ones you would expect. A one-night stand probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Her, CoffeeMeetsBagel, FEM, Happn, or OKCupid - but these five apps were the most associated with hookups. As for Tinder, it ranked 10th out of the 16 apps we analyzed... not the best showing for the most famous of hookup apps.

The best apps for finding love aren't all that different from the best for getting laid. When it comes to l'amour, reviewers sing the praises of Her, FEM, Happn, Scruff, and OKCupid. (And since you asked, Tinder came in at number 11). Note that two of the best apps to both get laid and find love are girl-specific. Can we conclude that that women know best?

Established apps like eHarmony, Match, Christian Mingle, Grindr, and Zoosk rounded out the bottom of the list in both categories. The lesson here? Platforms that worked 5+ years ago aren’t working anymore.

So, here's a dating tip from us: Choose apps that are more targeted to your specific interests and/or what you are looking for in a partner - or that enable you to easily filter through the masses to find those matches - rather than staying on generalized apps. Almost all of the highest-ranked apps for lust and love are targeted to a specific audience or have filtering capabilities. You might have more luck being a bigger fish in a smaller (or at least more filtered) sea.

On a related note: Attractiveness and threesomes

If you’re trying to find all the attractive people (and let’s be real, who isn’t?), listen up - we’ve found where you need to look! According to reviewers, CoffeeMeetsBagel, Bumble, and OKCupid have the best-looking users compared to other apps.

For those of you who would prefer to have more than one attractive person in your bed, turn to the female-only app Her. (Sorry, gentlemen.) Threesomes were more widely discussed in reviews of this app than they were for others - including the threesome-specific app Feeld.

Caveat emptor: Fake profiles and scams

Are we getting tricked by the developing lords of online dating?

Fake profiles created by the app company (as opposed to other daters) was one of the most prevalent concepts throughout all the reviews. Daters frequently mention “fake profiles” (including other terms such as “scammers” and “bots”) of fictitious and often insanely attractive people, presumably to keep real users engaged and messaging even when the number of real users on the app is relatively low.

We hate to break it to you, but this seems to be an issue no matter which app you use. Reviewer reports of fake profiles were fairly consistent across all apps.

Based on reviewers’ collective experience with identifying fake profiles and scammers, here are some things daters need to look out for:

  • Profiles with only one photo, especially if it looks like it’s been professionally made

  • Minimal or no information (“ask me!”) in the “about me” or other sections

  • Quickly trying to move the conversation off the app and onto another platform

Of course, another type of “fake” profile is human beings put up fake pictures (or no pics at all), as well as misleading personal information. But online daters are overwhelming more concerned with “bot” profiles that lack a soul.

It’s official: Dating is better with an iPhone

Out of curiosity, we decided to see whether there was a difference between the reviews we pulled from the Apple App Store compared to those from the Google Play Store. Surprise!- reviewers with iPhones are much happier with their overall dating app experiences. Their reviews more frequently mention finding good matches, love, long-term relationships, and making friends.

On the flip side, Android users report both a worse experience overall with dating apps and more frustrations with the app’s features and functionality, including bugs and crashes.

Shall we all upgrade to the iPhone 7 now or later?

Overall winners and losers

So, which dating apps should you avoid? The data is in and the results are clear - the apps disliked most by reviewers are Zoosk, eHarmony, Match, Christian Mingle, and Plenty of Fish... in other words, the oldest and most established ones.

Instead, we suggest you swipe right on these apps, which reviewers were most likely to say they would recommend: Her, FEM, Happn, Scruff, and OKCupid.

Here’s the full set of app rankings, organized by concept and how associated they were with each app:

Have fun out there in the dating world (or be immensely grateful that you're not), and oh yeah - Happy Valentine's Day!


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