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Here at Best10, we are always on the lookout for fresh new dating services; across the sectors that we review, recommend, and provide independent advice on.
This year has seen a shift in the way we interact and connect, and it feels like digital matchmaking isn't going anywhere.
Let's look at a lineup of the newest feature releases, new platforms, and services on offer - and what they are delivering that might bring something sparkling and new to your festive season.
Not a new launch; but a rapid growth trajectory that's worth a mention!
WooPlus is a big platform for bigger singles, and it's zero-tolerance rules around fat shaming and violations of the site make it feel like a secure space for plus-size guys and girls.
Until recently, the site had about 3.5 million members, both men and women, and is like a hybrid social networking site rather than solely a dating platform.
What's interesting is how fast it has grown! This month we saw the site reach 5 million users, part of which might be due to launching a new German language version, making it more accessible for the millions of people in central Europe speaking German as their first language.
This is all about diversification, and tapping into new markets where the members report positive feedback about how the service works, what benefits it delivers, and how it feels like a more comfortable space than mainstream dating.
According to WooPlus, 71% of their members have experienced malicious behaviour on other dating sites due to the size - so creating a plus-size platform where such discrimination is strictly prohibited has to be good news.
It will be interesting to see where the platform goes next; and how big a market plus-size dating is proving to be!
This platform is new to the market, and calls itself an 'inclusive social community'. Fiorry sounds like a networking app but says it is based around a modern dating culture. So, we'd expect to see plenty of private chat features, matchmaking functions or perhaps swipe games to help non-binary singles find their happily ever after.
Inclusion is the name of the game, and it's terrific to see the emphasis on a safe space - and also, that Fiorry welcomes cisgender allies - so everybody truly is included! A press release in October announced that Fiorry had amassed 60,000 registered users, with around 18,500 trans people, so it sounds like it's hitting the right tone.
Anna Doronina, Fiorry Ambassador and trans woman, says:_ 'The aim is to soon become the largest online community for trans people worldwide. The dating and networking apps I’ve used fail to care for its trans and non-binary users. Fiorry’s priority is to correct this.'_
Qemistry says it is a 'dating app with personality' - and it looks like it's ideal for a generation of mobile users who are more familiar with video content, TikToks and reels than sending messages or typing out their profile information.
The difference here is that profiles don't consist of text boxes as you'd expect, but rather are video streams, where users are encouraged to record media that show their personality, what they like doing, and what sort of lifestyle they lead.
For me, I can totally see the appeal; and it sounds like Qemistry would be great fun to scroll through!
That said, for the less technically minded, or those of us who lack a creativity gene, I can also see the potential to feel a little left behind the times - so perhaps I'll leave this to younger users who can whip up a TikTok in a matter of seconds.
There's no argument that social distancing has become part of the global vocabulary in 2020, and video dating and live DMs have a solid place in online dating. That has always been the case, but even more important when singles are unlikely to be able to meet in person any time soon!
I also feel that videos do give a better idea of a person's personality than text alone, so multimedia conversations are a great way to get to know a match better, without needing to set foot out of your door.
Camgo is particularly big in the US; their Chat Stats show membership increases of 40% in California, 33% in New York and 29% in Arizona, so it's fair to say the service is catching on!
Initially, I wasn't sold on this new platform; partly because it seems to be reinventing the wheel? Most dating sites have some live chat function, and pretty much every smartphone user in the world has What's App or Messenger.
However, it does solve a problem! How can you meet new people to video date, if you're on lockdown, in isolation, or waiting for the world to return to some semblance of normality? If you have a dedicated video-dating app, isn't it faster, simpler and easier to find local guys and girls who are up for a spot of flirting via video feed?
It seems to be working, and with options including Safe Search or less secure random chats, there's a lot of flexibility here to adapt to the needs of different users.
Finally, we'll look at what's happening with Finka; a gay social network for men, aimed at the Far East demographic where many western dating sites steer well clear.
The platform currently has about 2.7 million users, so whilst it's not the size of some of the biggest market share holders, it does have a reasonably sized membership base. It is considered one of the largest such networks in China.
In the last week or so, we've heard that BlueCity is buying out Finka from iRainbow Hong Kong Limited, so it's going to be interesting to see how this links in with BlueCity's Blued app, and what that will mean to the future of gay dating.
BlueCity also bought LESDO, a lesbian dating site and networking app, so we're expecting something special, and aimed squarely at non-heterosexual dating that could be a significant change.
We'll keep you updated with news, launches and updates as we hear them; and in the meantime, always welcome your feedback if you've tried out one of these new platforms and have some experiences to share!