The 10 Coolest New & Lesser Known Dating Apps for Finding Love, Hookups & More (PHOTOS)

Caroline Olney | Nov 16, 2015 Love & Sex

Gone are the days of meeting your love match at town dances, or even just meeting them at the local bar. But we knew that. What you might not know is that we're so fully immersed in the world of online dating that even some of the OG dating apps and sites we were just getting used to are out (good-bye, Tinder! Good-bye, eHarmony!), and newer, more niche ones are in.

It's hard to keep up with the lightning speed at which apps are created, plus keep up with what the "kids" are into these days, so here's your list of the coolest and less well-known dating apps that people are using to find true love, one-night stands, and everything in between -- and we even break down the pros and cons of each one and everything!

Image via © stevanovicigor/iStock; Africa Studio/shutterstock

  • Bumble: Pros


    What sets it apart: The girls run the show -- it functions similar to Tinder in that you swipe left or right on somebody’s profile, but once two people match, only the girl can initiate the conversation. If she doesn’t within 24 hours, the connection expires and disappears. 
    What you'll find: More pressure to act on your matches, and a better sense of how into you your match is because with Bumble, men are given the option to extend one match for an additional 24 hours. Women can see this, so they can tell if someone’s more into them than usual.
    Best feature: Expiring matches. It forces you to take action, resulting in more connections and more in-person meet-ups. Plus, not getting unwarranted d*ck pics or generally creepy messages from random dudes is pretty nice.

  • Bumble: Cons


    What you won't find: It's not anything special for LGBT people looking for relationships because for same-sex matches, the rules disappear and Bumble is basically the same as Tinder in that either party can initiate a conversation.
    Biggest complaint: While having that power is great in theory, it also means you're responsible for kicking things off with a new potential date. The struggle to come up with a good opening message is real.

  • Happn: Pros


    What sets it apart: With Happn, it's all about your location and it's all about missed connections. Instead of tracking down the guy you were eyeing in the coffee shop this morning on Craigslist, you can check your Happn feed to see who you crossed paths with throughout your day. If you see your coffee shop boy, you can "Crush" him -- and if he has a crush on you, too, then you chat.
    What you'll find: Potential connections with the mysterious strangers you walk by every day on the street.
    Best feature: The potential matches on Happn feel more real because you can see that these are people interacting with the world, not just swiping right over and over from their couch. Plus, using it during or after parties or nights at a bar is an easy and practical way to reconnect with people you've already met.

  • Happn: Cons


    What you won't find: Your small town -- right now anyway. Happn is only in major cities, but they are expanding.
    Biggest complaint: To be honest, it's a little creepy that someone can figure out the path you walk to work or home to your apartment every day by seeing when and where they interact with you -- it seems a little bit asking for danger.

  • Hitch: Pros


    What sets it apart: Hitch lets your friends play matchmaker for you, and lets you play matchmaker for your friends.
    What you'll find: You'll find two things: A list of your Facebook friends that you could potentially set up, and a list of matches that your friends have set up for you.
    Best feature: Hopefully, your friends have your best interests in mind and you can trust their judgment. Theoretically, they should know you better than an algorithm. With Hitch, you also won't know who you're chatting to right away (just their gender and age) -- you have to wait until they choose to reveal their identity to you.

  • Hitch: Cons


    What you won't find: There are no algorithms suggesting people to you, and you won't find people too far outside of your circle -- Hitch relies entirely on friends of friends.
    Biggest complaint: It kind of comes down to the judgment of your friends. If you don't have a wide circle, you could be limited in your matches. Plus, when you're looking at a list of your friends to set up, there's no real distinction between your best friend of 10 years and that girl who you were in a group project with once in college.

  • Dating Ring: Pros


    What sets it apart: Instead of algorithms, computers, and robots, Dating Ring uses real matchmakers that will set you up on dates.
    What you'll find: You'll find a more refined experience, but at a price -- you pay for two matches a month or for four matches a month. If you choose a free account, you're not guaranteed any matches. Instead, you're put in the pool of people the matchmakers choose from when picking for the paying members.
    Best feature: In addition to matching you with people, the matchmakers give your profile a makeover before sending it out. Using all the information and photos you submitted, they'll make your profile look its best.

  • Dating Ring: Cons


    What you won't find: You won't find a pile of profiles you flip through. Once you submit your profile, you'll only see other profiles once the Dating Ring matchmakers send them to you as potential matches.
    Biggest complaint: There's not much you can do but wait once you submit your profile -- it's pretty passive relative to Tinder or some of the other big ones. Plus, it'd be nice if it were cheaper, but we do like those matchmakers.

  • Coffee Meets Bagel: Pros


    What sets it apart: CMB only sends you one match per day -- at noon, to your inbox.
    What you'll find: You'll find less of the "shopping" atmosphere that many other apps have. If you and your "bagel" both decide you like each other after viewing each other's profiles, you're given a temporary phone number to text through that will expire after one week. 
    Best feature: You won't match with as many people, but the ones you like are probably better real-life matches. With CMB, you look at a person's full profile before deciding whether or not to "like” them, instead of just glancing at their first picture and moving onto the next one.

  • Coffee Meets Bagel


    What you won't find: As many matches as you would on Tinder or similar sites. Since you're only given one potential per day, you can only make one match per day (if he or she likes you too), whereas on other apps you can make 50+ matches per day.
    Biggest complaint: It's kind of weird that they call matches "bagels," but maybe that's just us.

    Note: Coffee Meets Bagel has been around for a few years. The newer, fresher version of this is called Once, which has a similar "one match per day" format. They boast human matchmakers in addition to their computers, but it's also only a couple months old, so the user pool is much smaller and some people complain that they only get one or two matches a week instead of one every day.

  • Align: Pros


    What sets it apart: Align finds you matches based on your astrological sign and your compatibility with other signs.
    What you'll find: All the info in astrological texts and sites boiled down to basic personality traits and emojis (seriously -- you have to pick your favorite emoji when you set up your profile).
    Best feature: Align gives you five potential matches per day and arranges them so the most compatible person is the biggest and most prominent profile, and the less compatible profiles are smaller. But you can still choose to defy the star signs and match with the least compatible people -- the astrology thing is just a jumping-off point.

  • Align: Cons


    What you won't find: A big geographical range -- right now. Align is only available in Los Angeles and New York City.
    Biggest complaint: As any true astrological connoisseur will tell you, the signs aren't as hard and fast as they seem. You might be a Sagittarius by birth date, but your real personality will factor in how close you are to the line between signs (you might be a very Capricorn-y Sagittarius), and well as your moon sign, which is based on your birthplace and time.

  • HowAboutWe: Pros


    What sets it apart: HowAboutWe focuses on the date first and the person second.
    What you'll find: You'll find people who already have dates in mind ("how about we go to the Sunday farmer's market?"). If that sounds good to you, you can check out their profile and indicate your interest. 
    Best feature: With many of today's dating apps, people get stuck in the texting phase and never really make it out to the actual date part. With HowAboutWe, you get right to the date -- and if you don't, you'll get a refund on your subscription payment.

  • HowAboutWe: Cons


    What you won't find: HowAboutWe isn't a totally free experience. You can build a profile, browse people, and post dates with your free account, but if you want to respond to someone else's date, you're going to have to pay a small subscription fee.
    Biggest complaint: While meeting right away is great in theory, it means you have to be a little more vigilant for the creeps out there and probably stick to public places for the first date.

  • Grouper: Pros


    What sets it apart: Grouper, as the name suggests, is a group dating app. Sound strange? It is, and it isn't.
    What you'll find: Once you match with someone, you'll be set up on a date for you and your two wing-women, plus your match and their two wing-men. The six of you meet at a location chosen for you by the app, and hope everyone likes each other. 
    Best feature: Having your friends around can help ease the traditional first-date awkwardness, and the app builds wing-men into your process. If they like you, they'll make you seem even cooler to your date. (Or maybe you'll like one of them better! Just let the wing-man know NOT while you're on the group date.)

  • Grouper: Cons


    What you won't find: You're not going to get a one-on-one date like you're used to, and it won't be free. Everyone in the group pays $17 to go, but you'll get a free drink once you get to the bar.
    Biggest complaint: Matching two people together is a big enough challenge for dating apps, which means matching six people is a near impossibility. Although, if the date really stinks, at least your best girlfriends are there to laugh at the terrible guys.

  • Tastebuds: Pros


    What sets it apart: Tastebuds is music taste–based -- the app sorts people based on artists they've liked on Facebook, their Spotify listening history, or their libraries. You can asked to be matched based on your own interests, or you can search for a particular band or artist and see who else likes them. 
    What you'll find: People who are as enthusiastic about music as you are.
    Best feature: Tastebuds lets you sort through potential matches and see many profiles at once (instead of the popular swipe-one-at-a-time format that Tinder pioneered), which gives you more control over who you're matching with. 

  • Tastebuds: Cons


    What you won't find: Anything beyond music fans, really.
    Biggest complaint: Though it's been around for a while, Tastebuds has cultivated a fairly niche user base, which means that if you're more Taylor Swift than Calvin Harris, you might have a hard time matching with people.

  • Tindog: Pros


    What sets it apart: It's Tinder ... for dogs.
    What you'll find: You'll find pet lovers and their furry friends.
    Best feature: It's a fun idea, and even if you don’t find love, at the very least you'll probably find a new playmate for your dog.

  • Tindog: Cons


    What you won't find: Your typical matching algorithm for humans. Instead, you're just going to see the profile of every dog in your area. Also, you won't find cats. This is a strictly "No cats allowed" app.
    Biggest complaint: Without an algorithm, there's no guarantee you're going to actually like the dog owner you meet with. Or the dog. No guarantees he'll be nice, either. 

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