In 2022, there were more than 360 million people using dating apps. That number is expected to increase in the future. It would be accurate to say that our romantic lives have been swept up in the digital revolution.
The Time Before Dating Apps
Of course, online dating didn’t start with mobile apps. It was a thing even before many of us became attached to our smartphones. When flip phones were the norm, there were online personal ads. These were often displayed in the classified sections of online newspapers as well as Craigslist.
After the personal ads came dating websites. At the time they were groundbreaking. In fact, many of the original dating websites still exist today. Of course, most have been converted into apps in an effort to keep up with consumer demand. These websites used rather simple but effective technology to match users with one another based on interests and location.
Over time, dating websites did evolve. Some focused on serious relationships while others prioritized casual dating. Different methods were introduced to better ensure compatibility. Still, the process was slow and a bit disconnected.
The Smartphone Changes Everything
There is no true consensus on when smartphones became part of the mainstream. Many people believe it happened when the first iPhone was released in 2007. In any case, the introduction of the smartphone changed everything, including dating!
What Did Dating Apps Change?
Almost immediately, dating websites became dating apps. These have certainly gotten smarter and more functional over time, but even at the very start they gave users two things they didn’t have before.
With apps, people could engage in online dating anywhere. They could set up profiles, browse through available singles, and select people who interested them whenever they felt like it. Online dating went from evening activity to pastime that could be indulged on the subway or during lunch break.
Even the process of selecting prospective dates became faster. Prior to dating apps you had to visit someone’s profile page. With apps, you could swipe through carousels of pictures. Eventually, you could swipe left or right to accept or reject dating profiles. That method is pretty much the gold standard today.
Location Location Location
Once smartphones were made widely available, a new type of social app was invented. Geosocial networking uses geographical data and functionality such as location sharing and geotagging to help connect people who are in close proximity to one another.
The combination of speed and proximity led to a new kind of dating app – the hookup app. People who wanted to meet up with people to hang out or for casual sex could simply download the right app, and they would be able to find exactly what and who they wanted quickly.
Gay Dating Apps And Beyond
Many of the first dating sites and apps catered to one of two markets. The first was straight people. The second was gay men. That left a lot of people without a truly viable online dating solution, or at least without one that worked very well.
Additionally, there are people on the dating scene who simply weren’t having their needs or preferences met. This led to the creation of niche dating apps. For example, there are apps where people seek out people who share their religious beliefs, where people seek out partners for BDSM play, and even an app for women to meet men who are farmers.
We’ve also witnessed an expansion of LGBTQ+ dating apps. For example Taimi for asexuals, aromantics, polyamorous folx, etc. demonstrates how online dating now meets the needs of a much wider range of people than it needed more than 15 years ago.
Dating Apps 2.0 a More Recent Revolution
Artificial intelligence, algorithms, big data, and user experience are the four elements that truly define the dating apps that are in use today. These apps are now more secure, they have better functions, and they simply work better when it comes to matching people according to their preferences and compatibility. Many modern dating apps offer video chat, integrations with other apps, chat bots, and updated security features.
Final Thoughts: Beyond Dating Apps
While dating apps certainly changed how we date, this technology isn’t the only influencer. The explosion of social media and constant connectivity brought on by smartphones have also led to the mass digitalization of our social lives. Today, most couples meet online, and that isn’t something that is likely to change any time soon. Who knows what the next revolution will be?