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Newer apps equip women with screening processes that will hopefully make them feel safer.
Newer apps equip women with screening processes that will hopefully make them feel safer.

Going digital for love

Come 14 February, these apps may be able to help men and women find a date, while offering women some sense of privacy and security

A new crop of dating apps is building in features that are women-friendly and hopes to protect them from fakes, trolls and potential harassment. Some offer only friends of friends as possible date options, most try to protect the identity of women. Here are a few that could help both men and women find a date this Valentine’s Day.

Woo

An Indian app, Woo claims to understand middle-class sensibilities, and places itself between a matchmaking and dating app. It says it wants to build an “exclusive community for educated, single professionals looking for meaningful relationships". Once you’ve filled in the information for your profile, the algorithms automatically screen everything, from gender to relationship status and professional information, going through the user’s social networks, to try and identify dubious profiles. “We reject about 30% sign-ups because they aren’t in the right age group, or don’t have a profile photograph, or clash with their Facebook relationship status," says Gurgaon-based Sumesh Menon, CEO and co-founder of U2opia Mobile, the developers of the app. Adding your LinkedIn profile gets you extra brownie points.

Once you’re in, Woo automatically matches you with people you’re likely to click with, using the swipe “yes" or “no" feature. Other than this, it also allows you to record a 7-second audio pitch called Voice Intro for your possible mate. The app was launched in July and updated in January.

Free for a trial period, with in-app purchases, on iOS and Google Play, starting from 250.

www.getwoo.at

TrulyMadly

Geolocation apps are best avoided if you fear stalkers. Indian-made TrulyMadly tries to ensure the profiles are authentic and only singles (checked by screening their Facebook profiles) make it to the app. In case someone tries to create a fake Facebook profile (required for sign-on), the algorithms in the dating app also check the profile to see how old it is, how many friends you have, your activity or news feed. Other security measures include asking for ID proof, checking online social profiles like LinkedIn and phone number verification.

“Each of this increases your trust score," says Delhi-based Sachin Bhatia, CEO, TrulyMadly. “Once you’re in, we do compatibility quizzes to ensure that people get relevant matches," he says. The profile includes your profession, educational background and interests. You can swipe to show interest or reject. The app was launched in August.

Free on Android. App for iOS and Windows Phone to be launched by March. www.trulymadly.com

Thrill

Chat, deliver statuses, scroll through people in your area and find the ones you like. With this app, women can request a one-way video chat with a man, where her camera is off, to try and assess if he is genuine. Women can also use audio verification to speak to a potential date without disclosing their private number. “In Thrill (app), women have the power," says Delhi-based Josh Israel, co-founder of Thrill. The Mumbai-based People Group, which owns the online matrimonial portal Shaadi.com, has recently bought a 25% stake in the company.

“They can chat with anyone whereas guys can only express interest," says Israel. Next on their list is video verification. The app was last updated in January.

Free on Android and iOS. www.thrillapp.com

Hinge

This one lets Facebook be your gatekeeper. It only shows up profiles of friends and friends of friends on your wall, so you hopefully stay away from the creeps. It also pulls in all the public information from a person’s Facebook profile—education, occupation and profile picture—so you can take a quick decision. “You are two times likely to like someone you’re socially connected to, you’ll feel more comfortable, and it’s the best way to meet common friends," says Samir Kapadia, international operations, Hinge India. Last updated for iOS in January and for Android earlier this month, the app launches in Mumbai in March and in Delhi in April.

Free on iOS and Google Play. Hinge.co

Bumble

From one of the co-founders of the dating app Tinder, comes Bumble. Like the older app, it lets you swipe when you see someone who interests you. The difference is that it allows only women to start a conversation. If a man shows interest, the woman has 24 hours to respond, or the connection disappears into a black hole.

Updated earlier this month, the app puts the ball decidedly in the woman’s court.

Free on iOS. Bumble.com

Vee

Vee gives women more power by putting in extra features for them. “Hide My Info", for instance, allows you to hide your first name, educational qualifications and profession. “Vee helps women share selectively and control the conversations to a great extent," says Delhi-based Nitin Gupta, its founder. Women can flag the profiles that come across as abusive or offensive or use the “Whisper Mode" that makes chats disappear in 30 seconds, so there’s no trail of what you said to a man on his phone or yours. The app was launched in July.

Free on iOS and Android. Getvee.com

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