The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 20, 2012

Finding love on the run: The fast rise of mobile dating apps

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Their mandate was simple: Try out two apps for two weeks and provide honest feedback.

While developers collect their own statistics and user responses, this was the first time this sort of focus group was organized, she said.

Franklin Horn had never tried mobile dating before.

"I don't think I would have started it on my own, and I'm in the software industry," said Horn, 27, who works at a tech startup in Santa Monica, Calif. "It's a hard thing to put yourself out there."

He used three apps: eHarmony, Skout and MeetMoi. While he didn't go on any dates, Horn said he exchanged about 150 casual messages with a few women.

"Since I'm single and busy, I wanted to use it as a way to practice flirting and see the technology behind the apps," he said.

Another participant, Joe, 30, from Chicago, described his experience in a blog."With these apps it feels like, 'Hey, I'm in the area, I'm looking to hang out,' he wrote. "You know what somebody's intention is. It's a little more explicit up front."

The perception about mobile apps, which is not totally inaccurate, is that they're meant for casual dating. Most companies advertise them as a way to "meet new friends," which is why they fall under the social networking label.

Skout's homepage puts it simply: "Life is short, you are busy and people are having fun without you right now. So start Skouting and find your party, anytime, anywhere."

Apps are usually free, and it takes a matter of minutes to create a profile or upload a photo. Grindr, MeetMoi, SinglesAroundMe and several others use geolocation technology that lets people arrange spur-of-the-moment dates. (Most apps let users display only their general location, rather than a precise one.)

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