The return of the familiar scent of conversation hearts and dinner reservations signifies yet another Valentine’s Day season. Yes, love is in the air and many of us will celebrate that love with our partners in special ways that cater to the unique natures of our relationships. It’s a beautiful thing, but, like anything else we discuss here, tech can make it better.
Bringing technology into romance can seem a bit counter to a concept almost solely defined by human emotion. But there are a number of apps that can greatly enhance the romantic experience with careful application. Nothing will replace the intimacy and intuition that makes building relationships so pleasurable and enriching, but who couldn’t use a little bit of help down that road?
Everybody and their mother (sometimes) is on Tinder in search of companionship of all sorts nowadays. But Bumble presents itself as a less-pressure filled alternative despite its massive popularity and profitability. Founded by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble places control in the hands of its female users, making them reach out to male matches first. The alteration has given the app its reputation as the “feminist Tinder,” which Herd herself embraces. That directive doesn’t apply to same-sex couples that use the app, but the app’s atmosphere and approach installs confidence in those previously burned by apps that allow unsolicited communication.
There are a number of apps squarely focused on improving the LGBTQ experience, but few get the job done better for LGBTQ men than Chappy. Another Herd production, Chappy’s mission is to cultivate a healthy, supportive and safe digital environment for men to find friends, build relationships and/or get it. It does so by strictly enforcing its code of conduct, requiring users’ faces be present in profile photos and built-in screenshot warnings to keep in-app conversations private.
Scissr is for LGBTQ women basically what Chappy is for their male counterparts. Made “by lesbians for lesbians,” Scissr focuses on building a community that includes and caters to all subsections of the LGBTQ female community that are looking for love. The main way it does that is by aggressively identifying fake profiles and profiles where men pose as women. It’s an unfortunate problem that many dating apps tailored to LGBTQ women face. But Scissr’s approach keeps it ahead of the pack and enhances its ability to connect its real users.
So, you’ve met someone but need some ideas to wow them on the date and build that relationship. Prime Trip is a great tool for the former. The classic dinner date is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes couples need to break out of their shell with new experiences. Prime Trip provides users with a large array of date ideas categorized by time of day, users’ level of spontaneity and location. Couples can tailor the app’s offerings to their tastes fairly easily. They can even submit their own ideas and comments on existing ideas to keep the ball rolling for other couples. It’s an awesome tool for adventurous romance.
As for building that relationship beyond date night, there are few apps on the marketplace better than Twyxt. The app provides couples with a PIN-protected private messaging service that includes unique tools to personalize your conversations. Users can save particularly touching messages as “Keepsakes” and the app auto-generates a calendar of your relationship. It’s a great service for those that want to keep a little slice of their lives away from other messenger services that are more easily compromised.
While Twyxt sells itself on privacy, LokLok sets itself apart with its convenience. The app syncs the lock screens of couples’ phones, transforming it into a cutesy instant messenger for short, loving messages. Users can send selfies, drawings and communications right from their phone’s lock screen without launching the app. Messages are delivered to your partner’s lock screen, allowing couples to let each other know the other is on their mind at any point of the day.
Couplete wears its mission and practicality in its name. The app groups together the best tools of other apps built for couples into one complete package. While that obviously means that it lacks some of the functionality that specificity breeds, the all-in-one approach doesn’t undercut Couplete’s quality. One thing that does set it apart is its “Wishlist” tool which keeps partners on the same page with tasks, date ideas and other day-to-day topics.
An integral part of any relationship is attraction, sexual or otherwise. The thirst doesn’t have to end after that initial period of spark, obviously, and healthy sexual exploration is a key way to keep things spicy. Enter Kindu. This app provides couples with a welcoming atmosphere to express their sexual desires and kinks to their partner without the anxiety of possible face-to-face rejection. Kindu reduces the stigma that comes with having non-traditional sexual desires while encouraging an open dialogue about bedroom practices between partners. It’s a great tool for getting to know your partner, and maybe even yourself.
When you want to put that healthy sexual exploration into practice, 69 Places provides you with all the locations in which to put those newfound interests into practice. The tongue-in-cheek program provides users with a selection of locations, ranging from benign to obscure, ripe for sexual expression. The app delivers such in the form of a checklist that users can mark off after completion and track their progress. You can even shake your phone and random venue of vice. 69 Places is a simple tool that adds a playful nature to couples’ sexual expression.
And Sexy Vibes seriously ups the sexual expression ante. The app that turns your phone into a remote-activated vibrator may be banned from the Google Play store, but that isn’t stopping its creators from putting pleasure in the palm of couples’ hands. Sexy Vibes provides public and private remote rooms where users can “give” or “receive” any of the app’s numerous vibration patterns. The app is only available through its developer’s website for a $1 fee, but it’s a fun, inexpensive tool for couples wanting to have some discreet yet adventurous, personalized fun.
It better have a vibe named after Ginuwine’s “Pony” or we riot.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Co-host of the Mr. Videogames Super Show podcast. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.