6 apps to make any date better

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Whether you’re looking for love or ways to celebrate your loved one, tech is playing an increasingly important role – especially during a pandemic.

USA TODAY

Whether you’re looking for love or ways to celebrate your loved one, technology is playing an increasingly important role – especially during a pandemic.

After all, many of us are forced to remain socially distant for the time being. Valentine’s Day might be celebrated at home this year, as opposed to dining in a restaurant, and florists may sell more bouquets to online customers instead of  in-store shoppers.

As the expression goes, there’s an app for that.

Interestingly, even online dating apps aren’t just used to find a mate over the internet, but quite literally to date online – until it’s safe to meet in person. As published in its The Future of Dating blog post, OkCupid found 92% of members said they were continuing to find love under lockdown, with almost 30% of singles reported going on at least one “virtual date” while quarantining.

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Connections and conversations across borders are up nearly 50% among singles, and people are setting their location preferences to “anywhere” more than ever before, says the company.

Ahead of Feb.14, the following are a half-dozen apps to commemorate love – or to help find it.

OkCupid

Whether it’s finding love locally or starting a long-distance relationship, anything goes during a pandemic. OkCupid is one of the oldest apps and websites for matching singles. (Photo: OkCupid 2021)

Rather than merely swiping left or right, those looking to go beyond a photo might consider one of the OG dating apps, OkCupid.

You’ll be asked to answer a few questions – including preferences, such as looking for casual dating or a long-term commitment, a straight or gay match, and so on – and based on the results you’ll see relevant profiles. Or browse through singles in your area – even though OKCupid found more than 1.5 million members are now open to a long-distance relationship.

Similar to other dating apps and sites, once you’ve liked someone, they will need to like you back in order for the connection to be made. Chatting is handled via in-app messaging. 

OkCupid (sometimes stylized as “okc”) is free to download and use, but an optional premium subscription ($9.99/month or $29.99 for 6 months) removes ads and unlocks features, such as seeing who likes you without having to like them first, using advanced search filters, and more.

Etsy

Many are opting to buy a custom, one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day instead of gifting an item many other people have. Etsy is a popular platform for buying (and selling) unique items. (Photo: Etsy, Inc.)

Instead of gifting something, er, ordinary, perhaps this year you’ll consider a one-of-a-kind gift for Valentine’s Day?

The Etsy app lets you shop for millions of unique items – including handmade goods and other creative and custom products – and have them delivered to your door. Search by keyword (like “handcrafted jewelry”), browse by theme (including a prominent Valentine’s Day area), or see what’s trending on the marketplace.

For example, a Black History Month section features several African American-made items to consider.

The app also lets you save your favorite items and shops, to quickly access at a later time, plus you can be notified when your favorite shop adds new items – or when your favorite items go on sale.

Uber Eats

You might be celebrating Valentine’s Day at home this year, but that doesn’t mean you need to cook. Food delivery apps like Uber Eats will be popular this weekend. (Photo: Uber Technologies Inc.)

Perhaps last year you clinked glasses over a candlelit restaurant table, but you might be considering a romantic at-home meal for V-Day 2021.

Sounds good, you think, but no one should slave over a hot stove all day. Enter food delivery services.

Uber Eats, for example, is available in hundreds of cities, which lets you select from a long list of restaurants (covering several cuisines), and then you can track your food order in real-time – and see the driver’s whereabouts on a map, en route to your place, so you know when it’s the right time to uncork the wine.

Contactless delivery means you can have it left on a doorstep, since you already linked your card to the app when you first set it up (and can tip from within the app, too). You’ll be notified when the order arrives.

Alternatively, you can schedule your food order in advance for a delivery person to pick it up later.

Several promo codes are available, too, for discounts on food or delivery charges.

Quik

Formerly known as Replay, and now owned by GoPro, Quik (free; for iOS here and Android here) is an intuitive yet powerful video editor for your phone, which lets you create sentimental slideshows for your bae, boo or babe.

Simply choose your favorite photos and video clips from you library, then let Quik do its thing. Within a couple of seconds, the software will stitch together a sharable film for you, complete with transitions and effects, and synchronizes everything to music (with 100 free songs included).

Of course, you can customize your story with a different soundtrack (from your phone’s music library or imported from a cloud account), as well as tweak on-screen text, emojis, and select close to 30 themes to change it up. If you prefer, even reorder the clips by dragging and dropping them using your finger, as well as rotate, zoom and trim photos and videos to your liking.

Save videos in 1080p HD quality, in up to 60 frames per second smoothness. Share to Instagram, Facebook and other social platforms, or send a link privately via text or email.

ProFlowers

Simplification and selection are the name of the game with the ProFlowers app and site. Low process and quick delivery are also hallmarks of this site. (Photo: ProFlowers)

Don’t break the bank on flower delivery.

While some places charge through the nose – especially this time of year – the ProFlowers app is widely seen as having aggressive pricing. (And given the year many of us endured, many of us will take a deal if we can get one.)

The app has you scroll through dozens of floral bouquets (including roses, of course), as well as (more practical) plant options, and then quickly order it for delivery to your stored addresses.

The first step is to type in your ZIP code and desired delivery date, and once you select what you’d like, you can create a personalized card from within the app, to be included with the gift and free vase (for flowers) or free pot (for plants).

Love You To Bits

A couple that plays together, stays together.

The charming Love You To Bits ($0.99) challenges players to solve puzzles in order to reunite Kosmo, a love-struck space explorer, with Nora, his robotic girlfriend. Problem is, an explosive event caused Nora’s pieces to be scattered across the galaxy. And so, you must find them, across a myriad of environments, to rebuild her.

Ideal to play together on the same phone or tablet, this charming and attractive sci-fi adventure is reminiscent of the once-popular “point-and-click” computer games of the ‘90s.

Created by Alike Studio and Pati.io, Love You To Bits has an average score of 4.8 out of 5 among thousands of reviews at the App Store.

Marc Saltzman is the author of Apple Watch For Dummies 4th Edition (Wiley). Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast here.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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