It is safe to say that Tinder has fully ensconced itself in the zeitgeist of the modern dating world. The movie Swipe Right hit theaters in 2016, while Tinder-related songs include “Swipe” by Miracles of Modern Science, “Swipe Right” by Forest Blakk, and “Digital Love” by Hailee Steinfeld. However, does it justify its place in the dating app pantheon? It sure does. Tinder fully delivers on its promise of putting you in front of thousands of eligible singles who want to meet you right now. Its basic version is free to use, and it gives you an addictive, irreverent, entertaining, and well-built platform to endlessly swipe. It is our Editors’ Choice dating app for finding Mr. or Ms. Right Now.
Getting Started With Tinder
Tinder is app-focused (available on both iOS and Android), but you can also sign up via the web on desktop, though that is not the preferred platform. The first step is to log in via Facebook or, if you do not want Facebook to have even more data on you, through a text to your phone. After you receive and enter a verification code, Tinder lets you get started.
First, you need to fill out some simple initial info: name, age, gender, email, and a captcha to verify you are a human. Like many websites, Tinder prompts you to allow it to send you browser notifications for any new matches. If you absolutely need to know if someone expressed an interest in you while you’re slaving away over a Google Sheets spreadsheet or writing an email, maybe that’s for you, but others might want to keep Tinder confined to its own app.
In addition, that is it. There are no further requirements for profile write-ups, and no field of menu options asking if you like tall people, smokers, drinkers, religious types, or what kind of coffee you prefer. Tinder just dumps you straight into the dating pool and asks you to start swiping—though in this case on the desktop, members can use the arrow or Enter keys and the space bar to move through the cattle call of humanity.
Interface and Profiles
Before diving into the swiping, you can add more to your profile, even though Tinder does not actively ask for it. The Settings function is first designed to get you to spend money, with prompts to sign up for Tinder Gold, Tinder Plus, Boosts and Super Likes (options discussed in a later section). After that, you can set your Swipe Location to your current location, or where you plan to be soon if, for example, you are going on vacation and want to set up a few dates in advance.
You then have the option to change what you are looking for (men or women), how far away they should be (1 to 100 miles), and age range (18 to whatever upper limit you choose). Interestingly, you can also choose to hide your profile in the queue (they call it the Card Stack) so you cannot be seen or swiped on. This setting still lets you message your matches, however, presumably so you can stay on Tinder, chat with your picks, and not be bothered by any new suitors. In the Edit Info field, you can add pictures; write the requisite About You section; include your job title, company, and school; and connect your Instagram. You can even choose to hide your age and location.
After getting into the actual hunt—and make no mistake, Tinder feels like a hunt—it is easy to see exactly why the app is so addictive. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know how this part works: Swipe right if you are into someone, and left if you are not. Your thumb is judge, jury, and executioner, acting on instinct and immediate assessment of the human being on the other side of the screen. It works because it is brutal in its immediacy, which is why other dating apps, including Bumble and OkCupid, have copied it.
Swiping left gives a photo a Nope overlay, while swiping right gives a photo a Like stamp. Photos stick to your thumb as you moving them around, which gives you a tactile feel of control. Tap a photo’s right side to look at the next one, tap the left side to go back. Tap the bottom to look at the profile (as if anyone cares about what people say or think on Tinder), and swipe up to Super Like. You can send someone’s profile to a friend to see what he or she think. Swipe a dozen or so times and Tinder serves you an ad or a prompt to read something like a Guide to Dating.
You can also use the X, Star, Heart and other icons at the bottom of the screen, but why bother? It is more fun to just keep swiping. Once two people have both swiped right on each other, a match is made. For free users, you will not know if someone has picked you until you have already picked them. Free users also have a finite amount of likes they can give in a day.
The search function is clearly for finding casual matches—at first, it felt a bit odd to be served up potential matches from Missouri, Austin, New York, or even Iceland—but remember that this isn’t really meant to find folks for eternity. That is not the appeal.
Tinder is very much aware of its alpha status among mobile dating apps. Tinder is so active and popular that if you are of a certain generation, it is almost weirder to not at least have some Tinder experience. Therefore, the app is not afraid to experiment with new features or ditch them when they do not work. Remember the Snapchat-esque Tinder Moments? However, because meeting strangers (men) from the internet can unfortunately lead to tragic results, Tinder also has robust safety features including real-time photo verification and the ability to share your date’s details, like time and location, with emergency services via Noonlight.
Finally, perhaps one of the best little Easter egg parts of Tinder is that the desktop version has a Work Mode function that switches the interface to look like a Google Doc so you don’t get busted clicking around while on the clock. It’s so effective you might actually almost closed out of the browser tab having done some work on the side and came back to it thinking it was an actual spreadsheet. Well played, Tinder.
Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold are a little confusing, especially since some of the things you can pay for here are free if you have some patience. Tinder Plus gives you unlimited likes, unlimited rewinds (or the ability to change your mind about a swipe), a free Boost each month, and the ability to swipe around the world. You can also turns off ads and choose who sees you. Tinder Gold goes further, letting you instantly see who you’ve already matched with before swiping and giving you full access to Top Picks (which non-Gold folks can only see a few of at a time).
Boost and Super Likes are more straightforward—Boost ups your visibility and Super Likes are basically to signify above and beyond “yep, you’re hot.” Tinder will give you a Few Super Likes per day free, but you will have to pay for all those Boosts.
Tinder Gold and Tinder Plus start at $29.99 and $19.99 per month, respectively, but drop in price the longer you commit. Boosts cost $3.99 each and Super Likes will run you $0.99 each for a pack of five, but both get progressively cheaper the more you buy.
Social Distancing With Tinder
As the COVID-19 pandemic forces us to limit our in-person exposure, dating apps face the tricky dilemma of how to responsibly service singles who now must settle for virtual connections instead of physical ones. After some initial tests, Tinder has rolled out its Face to Face video chat functionality across the globe. If you and your match both consent to video chat within in the app, you can turn on the camera for more intimate conversations. Face to Face is available to everyone who uses Tinder.
Tinder has other pandemic-era solutions that are designed to expand the number of people you can match, since all you will be doing is chatting anyway. Tinder Passport, which lets you match outside of your city, and Tinder U, which lets you match with students from your college, are both currently free.
Bumble, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish have also launched full on, video dating features, as has our other Editors’ Choice pick Match. Plenty of Fish has livestreaming. Hinge at least helps you set up a video date with your match outside the app itself. Facebook Dating’s main advantage is its connection to the larger Facebook ecosystem, and that includes Instagram, Messenger, and the experimental Tuned communication app for couples under quarantine.
Ready for a Good Time?
If you are up for a good time rather than a lasting commitment, Tinder is the app for you. While it is not unheard of to find a life partner using Tinder, you will want to check out Match, other Editors’ Choice for dating apps, for serious dates. That said, Tinder does exactly what it says it is going to do—help you find a quick date. It is fun, a little irreverent and, judging by its popularity, gets results.
For more on digital dating, see our picks for the best hookup apps and the best breakup apps. In addition, you should explore these self-care apps and services to help mend a broken heart.
Simple, modern interface
Swiping feature is addictive
Free to use the basic app
Geared more toward hookups than relationships
Many incremental ways to spend money