7 On Your Side

7 On Your Side takes a look at popular dating apps

Thursday, February 13, 2014

We use our smartphones for just about everything these days, and now they can even find you a date. Millions of singles are looking in their screens to find that someone special. As Valentine's Day approaches, we look at the growing popularity of dating apps.

The dating apps are becoming hugely popular. After all, we use our smartphones for everything else -- reserving a table, depositing a check, calling a cab. Why not also find a date?

Some would argue it's too impersonal. Others say it's convenient. But can you really find romance through an app?

Lauren Grause of San Francisco doesn't need to go any further than her smartphone. With a few swipes she meets hundreds of bachelors all at once.

"It's been a lot of fun," she said. "I haven't found Prince Charming yet."

"I've been on about 10 dates," said Drew Davis of Piedmont.

Davis is also searching for love through the tiny screen of his smartphone.

"I look for honesty, truthfulness," he said.

Drew and Lauren are among the legions of singles that are turning to dating apps to meet someone new.

"Mobile apps are all the rage right now," said singles counselor Julie Spira. "It's become such a huge business."

Spira says online dating is quickly migrating to smartphones and dating apps are booming. Sales reached more than $200 million last year. We found 2,500 dating apps in the iTunes Store alone. They had names like Plenty of Fish, Singles Around Me, and Coffee Meets Bagel.

Lauren is using a popular one called Tinder. She sizes up potential dates by flipping through their photos.

"He has a lot of tattoos," she said while looking at the app. "Good to know. Not for me, it's a no."

She swipes left to reject a guy and swipes right if she's interested. If two people like each other, they can set up a date.

"You don't really know about the substance of a person," Lauren said.

Drew says it's hard to judge based on a photo.

"I thought she was completely beautiful," he said. "We had a couple shared interests."

He found a woman on Tinder, they met at a coffee shop.

"Before I even had a chance to speak, she starts asking me questions," he said.

Oddly probing questions.

"If I was stranded on the side of the road and I only had, you know, a dying cellphone," he said.

Then he saw it -- a tape machine under her chair recording his every word.

"She was actually just looking for inspiration for a male character in her book," Drew explained.

Lauren recalls a bad date. She got stuck with the bill.

"The person just drank way too much alcohol," she said. "It was just a train wreck. I wanted to leave. I think I need to perfect my exit plan."

But later she met a great guy.

"We went to the Berkeley Marina and it was absolutely beautiful," Lauren said. "We walked out on the pier, we had a long conversation."

Drew hasn't given up on mobile dating, but longs for some old fashioned magic of personal encounters.

"Like my parents, for example, they met in person over a bagel," he said.

Lauren says apps are just the latest way to meet someone new.

"Even if there's one fun date out of it, it's worth it," she said.

Some singles tell us it's so easy to meet up with someone with the swipe of a finger -- you could make a match in time for Valentine's Day.

However, our dating expert says you may want to reserve your special day for special people in your life. And save the romantic adventures for another time.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
smartphones, apps, valentine's day, 7 on your side, michael finney
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