Online Dating Enters the iPad Age

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The iPod revolutionized the way we consume music. The iPhone made us crazy for apps. And now the iPad is getting ready to rock our sex lives — or at least help improve our search for someone to flirt with. In late May, will become the first dating site to launch an iPad application. The free app will be similar to the version that's already available to phone users: members can enter search criteria, such as age range, gender and physical preferences, and a HotMap will show in real time the locations of active Skout users who fit those criteria. The idea is to help members meet up and see if magic happens. The cool thing about the iPad adaptation, says CEO Christian Wiklund, is that its screen is large enough to let the user view the map while simultaneously chatting and searching through another member's photos. (Membership is free, but the site charges $7 a month for features like finding out which members think you're hot.)

David Evans, editor of, says we can expect to see more innovative technology in a few months after companies get acquainted with the capabilities of the iPad. "What I'm looking for are dating sites that are optimized for the iPad, with features native to the sleek computing device like [touchscreen motions such as] pinch, twist, zoom and shake," he says. "It's the iPad that's going to enable developers to create entirely new ways to browse, discover and connect with singles."

For the past 10 years, most online dating sites have remained stagnant in their Web design, says Alex Willcock, CEO of VisualDNA, which produces image-based quizzes for dating sites as alternatives to lengthy questionnaires. This summer the company plans to launch an iPad version of its ProfileWiz product, which prompts users to define, for example, what they think is sexy by making them choose from several photos, including one of a couple snuggling in bed and another making out in a restroom. The iPad allows dating sites, Willcock says, "to start providing users with a fun, engaging and enriching experience while embracing the key elements of the iPad — simplicity and spontaneity."

Steve Odom, CEO and founder of dating site Gelato, which launched last year and includes a live feed of members' social-media profiles, is redesigning his entire website based on the iPad's appearance. Profile pictures play a key role in online dating, Odom says, and the iPad gives sites an opportunity to play up the presentation of their clientele. "It's big, it's beautiful, and it's perfect for dating sites," says Odom, who plans to unveil the redesign in June.

Evans predicts that online dating sites will begin to display their content like a magazine, letting users flip through pages of profiles and enlarge photos while simultaneously texting with one or more others. He says there's also been talk of adding a facial-coding and eye-tracking function that would use a webcam on the iPad to refine suggested matches based on a member's responses to certain profiles. If you grimace, the profile will fade away; if you smile or if your pupils dilate, similar profiles will be suggested. In other words, some day there could be an iPad app for love at first sight.