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Heart smart: A guide to dating apps

"Are you seeing anyone?" Perhaps you've heard that inquiry over a recent holiday meal.

"ARE you seeing anyone?"

Perhaps you've heard that inquiry over a recent holiday meal.

If the answer was, "No, but I'm looking," your phone is a good place to search. Before a dating app can help you find the right match, though, you have to find the right match of a dating app.

We looked at six popular apps and considered:

Goal: What kind of relationship are you seeking? From casual to committed, rated 1-5

Preparation: How much work are you willing to do when you join? From very little to lengthy questionnaires, rated 1-5

Face-to-face: How soon do you want to meet? From immediately or after much back-and-forth, rated 1-5

Matches: How many matches do you want per day? From one or unlimited, rated 1-5

The apps

-Hinge: Hinge aims to connect Facebook users to a pool of their friends' friends. Available in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, it creates a profile by pulling names, recent photos and "likes" from Facebook, to which users - mostly in their late 20s and early 30s - can append self-selected "personality tags."

Each day at noon, users receive a set of five to seven potential matches (who each share a Facebook friend with the user), along with a prompt to give a "heart" or an "X" to each. Mutual hearts result in an introduction e-mail from Hinge, complete with a location suggestion for a first date.

Rating: Goal, 3; Preparation, 2; Face-to-face, 3; Matches, 2.

-Coffee Meets Bagel: Designed by two thirtysomething women, with women in mind. The app's setup is simple: It uses Facebook networks to match potential dates. Users fill out a pretty bare-bones profile, with some multiple-choice questions.

Every day at noon, users get a "bagel," or match. Coffee Meets Bagel also sets up a private line to allow text messaging without revealing personal phone numbers. Matches expire after 24 hours. The site has 150,000 users nationwide. That user base skews smart, young and professional.

Rating: 4, 2, 2, 1.

-Grouper: Users sign up through Facebook and pick a trio of friends; Grouper plans a meeting with a set of three other friends at a local bar.

Each date costs $20 a person and includes one round of drinks at the establishment selected by Grouper. Fun is the main priority, so daters looking for a quieter, one-on-one interaction might feel overwhelmed. The average age of Groupers is 26, and nearly all have a bachelor's degree.

Rating: 2, 1, 1, 1.

-Tinder: This free app searches for singles based on the user's location and is linked to Facebook. The premise is pretty superficial: Users make snap judgments based on photos, swiping right to approve a potential match and left to bypass one. Notifications about matches aren't sent unless both users approve.

The site has, on average, 5 million new matches and 400 million profile ratings per day. The biggest audience is 18- to 24-year-olds.

Rating: 3, 1, 3, 5.

-OkCupid: This is one of the largest free online dating sites, boasting more than 4 million active users. It matches daters using a special algorithm generated by user activity and answers to questions. IAC, which operates dating site, bought OkCupid in 2011.

Rating: 4, 3, 3, 5.

-Grindr: This free app exclusively for single "gay, bisexual and curious" men locates potential matches based on geographic proximity; users judge each other on photos. The niche app tops 1.2 million active users who exchange more than 30 million messages daily.

Rating: 3, 1, 2, 5.