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GPS dating apps can help users find love in minutes

Thursday, October 04, 2012

We all know GPS is good for helping us find our way around. But can it also help us find love?

"I was a little skeptical at first, I thought you know, this is, jeez this is going to tell people where I am?" said Sam Hyde.

But when Hyde checked in through his GPS app, he found out Nina was standing in line at the same place he was. They messaged to meet up.

"We just locked eyes and it was love at first sight; love at first text," he said.

Finding love the smartphone way is a trend that is definitely taking off. SinglesAroundMe says approximately 20,000 singles install the app each week. OkCupid reports 1 million of its 3 million users utilize the GPS feature. And HowAboutWe estimates that about one in four of its online daters are now incorporating location based dating into their search for a soul mate.

"It's revolutionizing the way people are using their phones in order to meet people in the real world," said Aaron Schildkrout, co-founder of HowAboutWe.

Each app works a little differently. When you check in on some, your profile and general location are automatically published to other singles nearby who can message you if they want to meet. Some apps reveal your exact location down to the street corner. But what about safety?

"You don't know who you're dealing with and if you're dealing with a photo, you don't know if it's that person's photo or if it's real, if it's made up," said Alan Rosenthal, an investigative consultant.

Hyde says he had a frightening experience when a man posed as a woman to lure him into one meeting.

"I could very, you know, very easily have been in danger," he said.

Rosenthal says in regular online dating, you have time to exchange emails or talk on the phone before you meet, but with GPS, you could be face to face in minutes.

"One of the biggest problems with GPS dating is the immediacy of it," he said. "You have no time to vet them or even to think about what your actions, your interactions or the ramifications are going to be."

Just this year, three teens were sexually assaulted when they met men posing as teens on the GPS app Skout. As a result, Skout made massive changes to its teen site, including removing location technology.

MeetMoi, which sends profiles of people in your general location, says they never share a user's exact location. SinglesAroundMe has privacy options that allow users to turn off their location GPS or to hide their profile.

Hyde says GPS dating has risks -- but also rewards.

"It's the future, get used to it," he said.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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