Relationship-focused tech to help you survive Valentine's Day
Love and technology? Anybody who has considered using a dating app knows the two aren't mutually exclusive. Here are some surprising ways to put tech to work for your love life this Valentine's Day, for both the single and the attached.
If you're struggling with a breakup: Mend
Mend bills itself as a "personal trainer for heartbreak." The app ushers users through a 28-day heartbreak cleanse, where each day has a short audio training session emphasizing self-care, reflection and maintaining a healthy distance from your ex. The folks behind Mend supplement the app with an online wellness community and a podcast series.
The app is free, along with a one week trial. After that, you'll have to pay for a membership, which start at US$10 per month. There are price breaks if you make a longer commitment (assuming a fear of commitment wasn't the reason for your recent split).
Detractors may be quick to criticize the impersonal aspects of nursing a breakup online, but considering that many relationships start online – along with the rise of self-help and meditation apps – tools like Mend could become much more commonplace.
For (sickeningly sweet) lovebirds: Couple
Do you and your mate's lovey-dovey antics drive your friends and family up a wall? Are you constantly being told to "get a room"? Well, the Couple app could serve as your digital relationship hub. It's like a social network built just for the two of you.
After you download the app to both your phones, you can start sharing private disappearing messages a la Snapchat and a timeline of your relationship history. Use functions like Thumbkiss to bond when you're apart: Touch corresponding spots on your phone at the same time to make them vibrate together.
Couple also includes some utilitarian features: shared calendars and to-do lists, venue and restaurant suggestions for date nights in your area and a Live Beacon function to broadcast your locations to one another in real-time. The app could help you and your partner feel a little closer – without making your less affectionate friends roll their eyes at your cheesy ways.
Gadgets that help you feel close to your long-distance sweetheart
There has been an uptick in the number of gadgets pitched to help bridge the gaps in long-distance relationships. You may not be able to get these in time for this Valentine's Day, but the promise of a future gift may go well alongside the usual flowers and card.
For example, the Pillow Talk set of wristbands, pillows and speakers met its Kickstarter goal at the end of last year. When you and your loved one are sleeping separately, the kit allows you to fall asleep while listening to each other's heart beats. Pillow talk can be pre-ordered online for $179.
Last month at CES, we had some hands on time with the LoveBox, a specialized messaging box for exchanging sweet nothings. Keep the wooden box plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi. The heart on the front spins when your sweetheart sends you a message; open the box to read it. US customers can pre-order now with an estimated ship date in June.
Ever more-specialized dating apps
You're probably already aware of leading dating services like Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com. Did you know there are alternatives? The number of specialized dating apps is growing.
For example, the Bumble app is Tinder-like in its swipe functionality, but there's a caveat: Women need to make the first move. If a pair matches but the woman doesn't initiate a conversation in the first 24 hours, the match disappears. While this could seem callous to some men, it curbs some of the harassment prevalent in online dating.
There are also dating services based on special interests, where you can find a match that likes the same things that you do – or hates the same things. For example, the app Sapio matches individuals based on intelligence level and favorite intellectual topics. The app Hater (iOS only) matches people based on mutual dislikes. The next time a picky friend nixes a date for a petty reason, direct them to Hater.
There are also some services that focus on the soul-searching aspect of dating. The emergent paid app Ona (currently available only to New Yorkers) is setting out to bring quality to dates not just through good matching, but personalized therapy and "date coaching" as well. It's less like an app and more like a concerned professional trying to help you find what you want – and indeed, Ona has dating experts on staff to give you one-on-one attention. If you're outside of New York, join a waiting list through the app to get notified when Ona becomes available in your area.
Curious about the algorithms and engineering behind dating apps? Check out New Atlas' examination of what online dating could be like in 20 years.