5 Apps for Meeting People

NEW YORK TheStreet-- If you live in the United States, you probably spend a significant amount of time online. Much of that time is "social." Facebook ( FB) helps you connect with people you already know, whereas other sites help you meet new people while you're at your computer. From online dating to professional networking, there are countless sites to help you connect.

Internet use has been mainstream for nearly 20 years, but there's still somewhat of a stigma for meeting people that way. That's gradually disappearing, however. One-third of recent marriages began with online dating, according to a new study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Yet many of these couples still feel compelled to make up stories about how they met.

Regardless of whether your Internet connection leads to marriage, there are certainly a lot of people using the web to find dates. Sites like LinkedIn ( LNKD) enable people to make professional contacts. Whether you're looking for new friends, a new job, or a new boyfriend, there are plenty of apps for meeting people. Here are some worth checking out.

Tinder

Gone are the days when people were too cool for online dating. Tinder just launched last fall and it has already facilitated over 75 million "matches." Although it has the reputation for being casual, it's already generated at least 50 wedding engagements.

So what makes Tinder so popular? First of all, it's easy. There's no need to create a profile. It grabs your name, age and photos from your Facebook account. Within seconds, you're able to browse other "singles" near your location.

Swipe right for "yes" and left for "no" and Tinder will allow you to chat with people whom you've "matched" with. Unlike other dating sites, you'll never know if you got rejected, nor will you ever be contacted by people you said "no" to. The simplicity of Tinder profiles causes the decision to be mostly looks-based, but the app shows you what Facebook "likes" and friends you have in common. Tinder users can also write a "status" about themselves.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 6.0 or later, and is also available for Android.

Highlight

Highlight is a location-based app that helps you meet people in your area. Highlight is not necessarily aimed towards finding dates, but perhaps a friend or a business contact. Highlight connects with your Facebook and when people walk by with mutual friends or "likes," it alerts you. For example, a Facebook employee with three mutual friends just walked by me.

You can message them or "highlight" them for later. You can also "high five" them, but I'm not sure what that means. It shows their photo and employment. A sizeable chunk of the users work in tech.

Careful, location-sharing remains activated until you "pause" it. Unlike Foursquare, you don't have to "check-in" to reveal your whereabouts. It automatically reveals that information to friends and strangers.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It's also available for Android.

Martini

Sometimes blind dates can be a little awkward. But with Martini's group dates, your friends can rescue you from boredom. The app matches one group of friends with another of the opposite sex, in the hopes that you'll hit it off. Just hope that the three of you aren't vying for the same guy or girl.

Martini is easy to use; it grabs your pictures and education from Facebook. Once you set your matching preferences, you can browse profiles of groups who are available on the same night. You can then send an "invite," and hopefully you've got yourself a triple date.

Martini can be a great way to break the ice, if you're shy. You have your wing-person by your sides, and at the very least, you've met some new people. Even if they aren't your type, you still spent the night out with friends.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is also available for Android.

HowAboutWe

Have you gotten tired of the traditional "drinks" date? And a dinner date can be a little formal for a first meeting. Well luckily for online daters, HowAboutWe intends to break up the monotony. Post a fun date idea and see who's game.

HowAboutWe markets themselves as the "offline dating site," since the goal is to get people meeting in real life. Instead of messaging back and forth, you can find someone who wants to see that new art exhibit today. If it's nice out, find a cute someone to walk with on the High Line. Even if you don't hit it off, at least you did what you wanted to do anyway.

I tried posting a tennis date. That proved to be a popular one, but then I realized I had to pay to see my responses. I guess I'll just never know if I missed out on my dream date. There's also a couples version, to help those in relationships find fun date ideas.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 6.0 or later. It is also available for Android.

Meetup

If you're looking to meet like-minded people, Meetup is a great way to go about it. Find people with similar professional and personal interests. I'm currently in groups for media professionals. Granted, I've never been to a meeting.

Use the app to find new meetup groups that fit your profile. Browse based on your stated interests. The app will show you a calendar of upcoming events. See who's signed up for beach volleyball.

This is a helpful way to meet people if you're new to town. It's also a good way to network if you're trying to meet new people in your industry. Or if you're looking for fans to watch your favorite sports teams, this app will help with that, too. You'll definitely meet new people with Meetup.

This free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is also available for Android.

-- Written by Katie Roof in New York

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