Dating isn't what it used to be.

Over the past couple decades, online dating has revolutionised the game. You no longer have to hit on people at bars and get rejected face-to-face. You can now carefully construct your virtual profile with coy details and selfies taken at the perfect angle, and you can look for someone who matches your preferences, then ping him or her a brief message and wait for a response.

But Tinder has taken this now-normal process and twisted it a little by adding one key gesture: swipes. Now, when looking for someone to ask out, you're literally swiping through an endless bucket of selfies that the app surfaces on your screen. These selfies are of real people located near you. With a quick swipe to the left, you can reject them, or with a swipe to the right, you can 'like' them, and hopefully match and send them a message.

It sounds simple, but that gesture has catapulted online dating into mainstream norm, where now you'd be hard pressed to find a single person who hasn't at least tried using Tinder to find a date. If you're new to the dating scene and want to try Tinder, here's what you need to know.

Tinder, which launched in 2012, is a social app that facilitates communication between mutually interested users.

Users use left or right swipes to 'like' or 'dislike' photos of other users and potentially match with them. Chatting on Tinder is only available between two users who have swiped right on one another's photos and matched. Tinder is therefore commonly used as a dating services app. As of 2017, Tinder is registering about 1.6 billion "swipes" per day and producing about 26 million matches.

Tinder is available in more than 190 countries around the globe, though it's not the most popular dating app available. London-based Badoo is the top dating app across 21 of the world’s biggest countries, according to data released by App Annie to the BBC, with Tinder topping the charts in 18.

Ready to join Tinder? Follow these steps:

  1. Download the Tinder mobile app on your Android or iOS device. It's free to download. However, some features cost money to use.
  2. Login with Facebook. You therefore need a Facebook account, but Tinder won't ever post to your Facebook.
  3. Grant access to your device location.

And that's it.

Once you download and join Tinder, follow these steps to master the app:

Set up profile

  1. When you open Tinder for the first time, you'll want to set up your profile before you begin swiping. Tap the Profile icon at the top of the screen (in the nav bar) to access the Profile screen.
  2. You'll see a pencil button on your Profile screen. Click it to access the Edit Profile screen and add your profile photo (the first photo of you that people will see when swiping) as well as other photos (people can tap on your profile to see more photos beyond your profile one) from your camera roll. When adding photos, you'll be able to select a Smart Photos option that tests all your photos and picks the best one to show first.
  3. Beneath the photos area on the Edit Profile screen, you can add details about yourself, including where you work and where you went to school. You can also connect your Instagram account and Spotify account so you can show others more photos and the music you like. You can also designate your gender and choose to hide your age and your distance.

Adjust settings

  1. On the Profile screen, you can tap the Settings button to access the Settings screen, where you can adjust which gender you'd like to see on Tinder, your searching distance, the age range you'd like to see on Tinder, whether you want your profile to appear in Tinder's feed, etc. You can also add your anthem, claim your username, and enable Tinder features like Super Likes, Boosts, and Tinder Plus. A new feature, Tinder Gold, is being tested in select countries, before being rolled out. More on this feature later. 

Start swiping on individuals

  1. Tap the Fire icon at the top of the screen (in the nav bar) to see a feed of individuals you can swipe left or right on. Remember, swiping left is a reject, while swiping right indicates you're interested. You can also tap the red X button below photos to reject, or you can press the green heart button below photos to indicate you're interested. When you've matched with someone, Tinder will alert you.
  2. If you'd like to learn more about an individual before swiping, tap on his or her's profile photo. You will then be able to see their entire profile with details, linked accounts, and more. You can also slide through their photo carousel to see more photos. Again, if you like what you see, tap the heart button on their profile, or tap the X button on their profile to reject.
  3. To indicate you're super interested in someone, tap the blue star button beneath their photos or on their profile.
  4. If you've accidentally rejected or liked someone, you can tap the yellow rewind button below photos to reverse your action. However, this requires a subscription to Tinder Plus, which costs £4.99/month, £2.50/month for six months or £1.92/month for 12 months. You will be asked subscribe, if you haven't already, and your payment method on Apple's App Store or Google Play Store will be charged.
  5. To ensure everyone in your area will see your profile when swiping, you can buy boosts. Tap the purple lightning button below photos and then select Boost Me. Buying a boost will make your profile the top profile in your area for 30 minutes, and you should get more matches as a result. A single boost costs £3.99, while five boosts costs £3 each, and 10 boosts costs £2.54 each.

Start swiping on groups

  1. You can also find groups of people to hang out with on Tinder. Simply tap the People icon at the top of the screen (in the nav bar). You will then see a Group screen with a feed of groups you can swipe left or right on. When you've matched with a group, Tinder will alert you.
  2. If you'd like to learn more about a particular group before swiping left or right, tap on profile photos in the group's photo collage. You will then be able to see the profiles of each person in the group.
  3. Before you swipe left or right on groups, you'll need to create your own group of at least one other person. On the Groups screen, tap the orange arrow button at the bottom. You'll then see options to form a group.

Start chatting with people

  1. Whenever Tinder alerts you to a new match with an individual or group, you will be given the opportunity to start a chat with the match, keep swiping, or tell your friends. Tap Send a Message to access the chat experience, where you can send text replies or GIFs from GIPHY.
  2. To see a feed of all your chats, simply tap the Chat icon at the top of the screen (in the nav bar). You can then tap on any individual or group to start or resume your chat with them.

We've already discussed how to use these key features above, but here's a little more detail in case you're confused:

  • Swipes: Tinder lets you swipe left (reject) or right (like) on individuals and groups of people. This is free to do.
  • Super Likes: Tinder lets you indicate you really like individuals with Super Likes. You only get a few of these before you run out, and then you'll have to wait to get more. If you don't want to wait, you can upgrade to Tinder Plus (costs money) and instantly get more Super Likes.
  • Boosts: Buying a boost will make your profile the top profile in your area for 30 minutes, and you should get more matches as a result. A single boost costs £3.99, while five boosts costs £3 each, and 10 boosts costs £2.40 each.
  • Tinder Plus: Tinder Plus is the premium version of Tinder. It unlocks most features, including the ability to rewind on swipes, which is handy if you accidentally swiped. Tinder Plus costs £4.99/month, £2.50/month for six months or £1.92/month for 12 months. Tinder Plus also lets you discover people in areas you're currently not located in, among other things.
  • Swipe with Friends: Tinder has recently become more social, by adding the free ability to find other a group of friends to hang out with. But first you need to set up your group of at least one other friend (go to the Profile screen and tap the Create Your Group option).
  • Chat: Once you've matched with individuals and groups, you can start chatting with them or send them GIFs. This is free to do.

Tinder Select is a members-only version of the app. It's meant for elite users, like "CEOs, super models, and other hyper-attractive/upwardly affluent types" or "celebrities and people who do really well on Tinder", according to TechCrunch, which claimed to have obtained photos depicting the feature and how it works. It’s not a completely separate app, but rather a separate option found in Tinder.

Towards the end of 2016, Tinder invited people to use Tinder Select. Those people reportedly also have the ability to "nominate" others to join, though those who were nominated can’t nominate anyone else, because Tinder doesn't want the members-only feature to spread uncontrollably. It’s unclear exactly how Tinder decides who gets an invite and who doesn’t.

You can learn more about Tinder Select and how it works from here.

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Tinder Gold is a new feature that Tinder is introducing, but initially only testing in Argentina, Australia, Canada and Mexico. It's believed it will roll out to more countries soon.

The main feature of Tinder Gold is to let you see which users have liked you, something that many users have been wanting for some time. 

Tinder hasn't said how much Gold will cost, but anyone currently subscribed to Tinder Plus will only need to pay a small amount more to upgrade their subscription, whilst those on the free tier will need to pay more. 

To see the other users that have 'liked' you, you'll need to go to the screen where you currently see your matches and then click on the first circle that appears. This circle will be surrounded in gold to separate it from your other matches. You'll then go to a new screen, where you can see all the other users that have swiped right on you, making it easier and quicker to find a potential match. 

Check out Pocket-lint's Tinder hub for related news and reviews.