By the end of March 2020, 32 out of 50 U.S. states were in lockdown — and on Sunday, March 29, there were more swipes on Tinder than on any other day in the app’s history. There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic is changing the playbook for dating in person, with online dating seeing a surge in popularity as stay-at-home advice and social distancing influence the way we meet and mingle with potential partners. So, if you’re single right now, how do you get your dating fix?
Some of the world’s most popular dating apps are capitalizing on features like in-app video chat, real-time virtual events, and gamification features that allow users to enjoy virtual dates without the need for in-person meetings. Navigating the world of online dating isn’t always easy, and we’ve already covered some of the best dating apps for 2020 — but here you’ll find some of the best dating apps for dating during the coronavirus pandemic, for iOS and Android. Some are familiar apps that have launched new features and concepts to make virtual dating easier and more fun, while others you may not have heard of yet.
If you’re single and not already on Tinder, there’s no time like the present. Undoubtedly the most popular dating app out there, Tinder actually isn’t offering many new features right now for dating during a pandemic — although back in April, it did grant all users free access to Tinder Passport, which lets you search for members anywhere in the world for free. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out. Tinder claims that the average chat now lasts between 10% and 20% longer compared to February, with users getting involved in conversation topics related to well-being, mental health, and the coronavirus. So, if you fancy getting more in-depth after making a match, there’s no time like the present to sign up.
You no longer need a Facebook account to sign up with Tinder, although you do need to be 18 or older. Once you’re in, you set up a profile with up to six images and a 500-character bio. This short-and-sweet approach to profiles means it’s easy to quickly get up and running. You can tweak the discovery settings to adjust who can see your profile, from age range to distance and proximity.
Chances are you already know how Tinder works: Tap on a photo to see a person’s additional information (and any shared Facebook friends if you logged in through your Facebook account). Then it’s simply a case of swipe right if you like them, left if you don’t, or up to indicate that you super-like them. If two people swipe right on one another, you’ll get matched and can then exchange messages. This limits the embarrassment of rejection, but a match doesn’t guarantee you’ll always get a reply. A free membership gives you a limited number of swipes a day, but you can sign up to Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold for unlimited swipes and Rewinds (where you can undo your last swipe), as well as the Likes You feature, which brings you a list of all the people who, well, like you.
It’s quick and relatively painless to set up a profile and get started, and you won’t be bombarded with unsolicited messages — but if you’re looking to connect via video chats or online games, you might want to look elsewhere.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish (PoF) is one of the oldest dating services around — and one of the most popular. It can take a while to get your profile set up, with a lengthy chemistry test that asks you all about your likes, dislikes, and what you want from a relationship, but it’s well worth your time, as this means you’ll be matched with like-minded individuals. Features like Spark let you quote parts of your match’s profile, making it easier to strike up a conversation, and the app is completely free, so you can browse matches and send and receive unlimited messages. To take part in video chats or access premium features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid membership, which costs $39 for three months, $60 for a six-month subscription, or $90 per year.
PoF recently released a LIVE! feature that works similarly to Facebook Live, allowing you to livestream to an audience or host one-on-one video chats. Or, you can take part in virtual speed dating from home with NextDate, which sends you on a series of 90-second video chats. You can carry on the chat with your matches in the app, eliminating the need to take your video calls elsewhere if you’re having a good time — and you won’t need to part with any personal details. It’s definitely worth checking the app out if you’re stuck at home and want to engage with others via a risk-free in-app video chat.
We’ve already covered Hinge fairly comprehensively in our pick of the best dating apps, but if you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time for dating during the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll be interested to know about the app’s newest features. The Date from Home feature has been recently added to encourage video chats within the app. The only catch? You’ll need to have each sent each other a message before initiating a video chat — this doesn’t include liking somebody’s profile or prompts. Once you’re chatting, you can move to a video call by clicking the Video Camera icon in the top right of your chat. Make sure you ask your match if they’re up for it first, though.
When you’re bored at home, there’s nothing worse than finding a match on a dating app and enduring a stilted, awkward conversation that ultimately goes nowhere. So, how do you break the ice? Dating apps that gamify the dating process are understandably popular right now — like XO. The idea of the app is that you and your match play a game together, which works as a natural icebreaker. You can choose from a range of games, like drawing or word games, and share your results on social media, making it easier to connect there, too. We love the Blind Date feature, which lets you play a game with your date without knowing who they are — your identities are revealed at the end of your first game, which can lead to some fun connections if you’re stuck in a rut and have a definite type. We love that the XO app takes a new approach to dating, and it’s particularly fun if you’re stuck at home and often find it hard to strike up conversations on a dating app.
If we had to say anything negative about XO, it would be that it’s still fairly new, which means it has a smaller user base than some of the other apps on our list — so, if you live outside a major city, you’re less likely to find somebody in close proximity.
Flutter is a real-time dating app that encourages a new approach to online dating. We don’t date 24/7, so why should we be on dating apps 24/7? The app’s clever concept means you won’t find yourself stuck in an endless chat that goes nowhere or run the risk of being ghosted. Dating events happen in real time on specific nights of the week, with all your matches and messages expiring at midnight. You’ll need to keep your notifications on to stay informed about when events are happening — and claim your spot before each event starts.
The app promises to make dating less time-consuming and frustrating, so you won’t be waiting hours for somebody you’re interested in to log in and respond to your messages. On days when events aren’t running, you can log in and improve your profile to boost your chances of meeting your match. Sadly, Flutter is an iOS-only app, leaving Android users out in the cold, and it may not be right for you if you’re the kind of person who likes to take dating slowly or take your time to respond to matches. But if you want to try a more direct way of dating — one where you’re not glued to your screen 24/7 — it’s definitely worth your time.
If you’ve ever seen the reality series Love is Blind, you’ll have a good idea of what Blindlee is all about. Launched in October 2019, you can sign up for the app to take part in a series of three-minute video calls for a vibe-check of the chemistry between you and potential matches. “Sounds great,” I hear you say — but what’s the catch? The calls are totally blind — your video feeds are blurred out, which the company says is designed to eliminate the “sometimes fake and superficial aspect of the online dating world.” So, it’s like an audio chat, albeit with a blurry version of your potential date. It may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but if you’re looking for an app that allows in-app video chat and you’re not feeling 100% confident about being on camera, then it’s probably worth a go.
The League rolled out League Live, its video speed dating service, back in December 2019, well ahead of the game. So, if you fancy dating somebody ambitious and well-educated, this might be the app for you. Joining takes a bit of effort — you’ll need to set up a profile and grant the app access to your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, which it uses to verify your information. The whole application process can be a bit time-consuming — you’ll either be accepted immediately, rejected, or placed on a waitlist, where you can remain for anything from a few hours to a few months.
The good news is that once you’re a member, you can get started enjoying features like League Live, video speed dating that allows you to have a series of three-minute video chats through the app on Sundays and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. sharp. You’ll be set up on three dates in nine minutes — with users who are in your area and match your preferences — and the app’s creators claim League Live’s match rate is three times that of the rest of the app. Video speed dating sounds fun to us, but if you’re looking for a longer, deeper chat, you’ll need to take your video calls off the app to Skype or Zoom, which means sharing your personal and contact details. The League has also introduced the option to add a 10-second video to your profile, helping you stand out from the competition.
Match first launched its dating service back in 1995, and today it’s considered one of the best dating apps if you’re looking for something a little more serious than a hookup or holiday romance. During the coronavirus pandemic, it added a hotline to its dating experts, making it easier to get answers to all your dating questions, as well as a web resource where you can find answers to FAQs. The app also set up virtual happy hours where up to 30 people can join others in their age group and city to mingle in a group video call, led by a moderator. You can even sign up for video coaching, so when you’re ready to get back out there and date in person, you’ll be more successful, thanks to video coaching topics like how to message people, how to prepare for a real first date, or how to flirt with someone during lockdown.
On April 15, Match launched its in-app video date service. Prior to the pandemic, only 6% of users expressed interest in a video chat feature, but with a lack of other options during lockdown, 69% of people said they would use this feature — and it has proved popular. Once you’re connected with your Match and you’ve exchanged at least four messages, you’ll unlock the option to tap the Camera icon in the top right and go on a video date. If somebody video calls you and you’re not ready, you can simply tap to decline the call — the app won’t let them know you’ve declined, just that the call didn’t connect. You’ll find loads of helpful tips and information on the site for how to prepare for a video date — everything from choosing the right location and lighting to how to get the conversation started. There’s even a video from dating coach Hayley Quinn that will help you prep for your best video date ever.
We’ve always been fans of Bumble for the variety of features it provides — and the fact that you can use the app for dating, business, or just to make friends. Now you can video chat or voice call within the app, too, with Bumble claiming a 21% increase in the use of their video chat feature during the pandemic. There’s even a new audio note function — great if you don’t fancy speaking to somebody in real time but still want to hear each other’s voices. With Bumble’s video and voice chat, your personal information is protected. Once you’ve matched with someone, you’ll see a video chat and phone icon in the top right of your chat screen. If you’re female, the good news is that you can call somebody as soon as you match — this can count as your first move. Guys, we’re afraid you’ll have to wait until the first move has been made before the video and voice call options are unlocked. Bumble also offers the option to add the Virtual Dating button to your profile to signify you’re open to video chats, reducing your risk of rejection — and you can share videos and pictures in Bumble chat, too.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve been listening to a lot more music these past few months. But just how important are your music tastes when dating? Research carried out by dating app Badoo has revealed that 87% of us believe music tastes matter in a relationship, with a further 70% of those surveyed saying shared music tastes are an important quality they look for when searching for a partner. So, how do you know if your date’s tastes run more to Guns N’ Roses or Dua Lipa without some pretty in-depth conversation? Tastebuds is a dating app that aims to match you with those who share your music tastes. Technically, it’s not just a dating app — you can meet new friends or find band members or concert buddies using the app, too.
Sign up for an account, create your profile, and add your favorite artists — you can even add a link to your Soundcloud, YouTube, or Spotify accounts, and connect your Last.fm or Songkick accounts to sync your events if you’re looking for concert buddies. If we had to pick a fault, the user base is rather small, so if you’re not in a major city, you might struggle to find matches. It’s also an iOS-only app right now, although we’re hopeful an Android version might be coming our way in the future.
Hmm, sounds like a catchy name for a dating app during a pandemic, right? That’s what we thought. But wait just a minute — Quarantine Together is actually a lot better than it sounds. As well as sending you a hand-washing reminder — good news for everyone — the app brings people together for a video call at 6 p.m. every day. Sadly, right now, you’ll need to join the waitlist, as the app is currently at full capacity, but if you can bear the wait, you can sign up for early access. The app matches you with a potential date, waits for you to accept, then sets up a video call, sending you and your match a private text message to confirm the details. Twenty minutes later, you’ll both receive your video chat link — the rest is up to you. As the app is in early access, you can’t currently download anything, but if you’re interested, we definitely recommend signing up for their waitlist.