March Madness is upon us and basketball fans will be filling out their office pool brackets to get in on the excitement for themselves. But what good is an exciting collegiate sports series if you have no one to enjoy it with?
We decided to pit some popular dating apps against each other in a bracket of their own to see which way of soliciting companionship or stranger genitals from your phone reigns supreme. The 16 contenders go head to head in the Hook Up, LGBT, Old Guard, and New Kids divisions before the final four showdown.
THE HOOK UPS
Tinder vs. 3nder
Tinder, the hook up app that put hook up apps on the map has since almost become a verb for the very act of casual dating. Though it’s not at the insane levels of conversational ubiquity it enjoyed back in 2013 and 14, it still tops the download charts and is a reliable source of dates.
3nder is pretty much just Tinder for those wishing to attempt a ménage a trois. Or, at least, that’s what the company claims is the app’s intent.
Unfortunately, even if all the connections 3nder facilitated resulted in threeways, there’s now way it could compare to the mountains of sex Tinder has spawned in its short existence. Tinder handily beats 3nder.
Down vs. Pure
Down’s premise is simple: swipe down on a person’s picture if you want to get down, up if you want to date. Once a mutual connection is made, the where and the what is up to you and your match.
Pure, like its name might imply, removes all pretense from hooking up. You post a pic for an hour and the app searches for anyone else in the area who might also be looking for some NSA fun. When it finds them, you’re both asked if you’d get busy with that other person and if it’s a mutual like, you’re linked up.
Both apps have abysmal user numbers so the marginal victory has to go to Down, strictly for not being an outright ghost town.
Tinder vs. Down
This one’s a true David and Goliath situation, but David’s puny little sling ain’t doing shit this time. Tinder stomps Down down with the same lack of regard as you or I would when accidentally stepping on a bug.
Her vs. Wing Ma’am
Her, formerly Dattch, offers lesbians a place to connect over mutual interests. Though still finding its user base, this app’s clean and stripped down UI is getting it mostly positive coverage so far.
Wing Ma’am purports to be a half-socializing, half-dating app where users can connect with other lesbians for social activities and romance. Like its competitor, there aren’t too many active users to choose from.
The online consensus seems to favor Her in this fight as it has the most support behind it and seems the most likely to continue on as an operating app.
Grindr vs. Scruff
With over 5 million users in 192 countries, Grinder is the reigning king of the gay dating app scene. “Dating” might be a bit of a stretch, as this location-based app is a tried and true hook up staple of the gay community.
Scruff seeks to copy Grindr’s magic formula, but caters primarily to the more hirsute communities. “Bears,” “cubs,” “otters,” and every other animal-based classification of gay man are invited to give this app a spin.
Though Grindr may be starting to show its age, the new contender Scruff can’t compete with the user base and reliability of this elder statesman of hook up apps.
Her vs. Grindr
Now in its sixth year of existence, Grindr has been through the ups and downs of a start up that Her is only just now dealing with. User base still trumps all however, so Grindr has to take this one.
THE OLD GUARD
Match vs. OKCupid
When looking to date date, you can’t really go wrong with well-established dating sites Match.com or Okcupid, who have designed their apps to be standalone experiences.
The edge in this fight has to go to OKC, which is the less conservative of the two platforms and (subjectively) offers a cooler and more attractive, if not slightly smaller, pool of users to work with.
PlentyOfFish vs. Zoosk
Plenty of Fish, for lack of a better term, is the trailer park of online dating. The users are just a little too –how you say? methy – to really pull the sort of crowd needed to elevate this site and app into the vernacular in the same way Tinder and OKCupid are. Still, the space has been around for 13 years already and it’d be crime to not have it in the running.
Zoosk, though full of bots and prostitutes, is a consistently high ranker on the app store charts. This may be due to its consistence as a safe for the LGBT community. Zoosk, despite its flaws (and there are flaws), offers a more modern version of app dating than PoF, which looks and feels like a relic of the early internet.
OKCupid vs. Zoosk
Though OKCupid has been around over a decade, what sets it apart from PoF is its interface, features and clear commitment to its users in terms of features.
THE NEW KIDS
Coffee Meets Bagel vs. Bumble
Coffee Meets Bagel famously found some funding on Shark Tank with its offer of more traditional matchmaking in app form, and for a small fee.
Bumble, founded by a former Tinder employee, is free and places the power of initiating a conversation (between men and women) in the hands of the woman.
Though CMB offers an earnest attempt at romance, the cost aspect places it behind Bumble, which has a novel approach at dating app communication.
Zoosk vs. Bumble
Zoosk’s spotty userbase of hookers and average folk can’t really hold a candle to Bumble’s engaged and vivacious members.
Tinder vs. Grindr
The dominant gay and straight hook up apps go head to head and, when it comes down to it, user experience is everything. Both offer convenient and relatively reliable methods of getting laid, but Tinder’s clean and aesthetically pleasing UI trounces Grindr’s garish layout.
OKCupid vs. Bumble
The hip dating app that started from a site squares off against the hip dating app that spawned from a hook up app. Only one can win. Despite the niche it’s carved out for itself, Bumble is still too green to dethrone a major player like OKC.
Tinder vs. OKCupid
When you boil it down, this match up is a microcosm of the entire digital dating world. Casual sex or serious dating? Both of the platforms purportedly offer any form of dating, be it casual or long term, but only one of them seems to consistently deliver on that front, and it’s OKCupid.
Not only does OKC provide a slew of features and constant improvements over the years, but it also consistently releases analytics that give society glimpses into how we date and where we still fall short in terms of latent bigotry. These analytic reports are genuinely important bits of research. On top of that, the company is socially progressive and responsible, often a leader in inclusiveness in the space.
But that’s just icing on the cake. Tinder is great, but has become MORE restrictive over its short lifespan with more and more attempts in app to cajole its user into springing for the premium tier of service. OKC, on the other hand, has expanded its features. While it still offers “A-list” users more features than non-paying users, it never gets into pusher territory, merely saying “this is what we’ve got. If it’s for you, cool. If it isn’t, no biggie.”
OKCupid has been around for over 12 years for a reason: it’s simply the best in the game. Their platform offers something for everyone: “a one-night stand, a sham marriage (we’re not judging). In fact, we don’t care what you do, just don’t be a jerk about it.”
If only the world could follow their accepting but unobtrusive lead.