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Location-based liaisons have surged well beyond their hookup origins, however.A 2011 report by Flurry, a mobile app analytics firm, found that the number of dating app users grew 150 percent between 20—including mobile add-ons to established online dating sites such as and OKCupid.

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In fact, 2011 was the first year that people spent more time on dating apps than on dating websites.

The ascendance of mobile dating is expected to continue as host devices flourish: The Pew Research Internet Project reports that 58 percent of Americans now own smartphones, up from only 11 percent in 2008; the number is projected to hit 80 percent by 2018.

Consider the popular "geosocial" app Tinder: You're shown a succession of user photographs, along with people's first name, age, and distance from you at the moment.

There may be, at most, a line or two of personal description ("Always down to binge on Netflix," "I say YES to life! You swipe left to reject and move on to the next photo, or swipe right to express a liking, at which point you message the other or "keep playing," in the app's gamelike jargon.

Industry analysts estimated it to have 4.2 million active daily users in April, although the verdict is still out on whether it's for serious dating or just entertainment.

The original blockbuster hookup app, Grindr uses GPS to help men liaison with other men whose proximity is bluntly expressed in feet (a beefcake named Tom, for instance, might be identified as 32 years old and 25 feet away).Eli Finkel, a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University who studies online dating and romantic relationships, contends that prolonged periods of computer-mediated conversation can actually be a detriment to new relationships since there's always such a wide gulf between how we present ourselves online and who we are in person.Geosocial apps, Finkel says, tend to minimize online banter and lead quickly to an offline meeting, which is the only way to see if there's real promise."Rather than slowly crafting a series of email exchanges over the course of days or weeks, you can get a cup of coffee or a beer with the person in 10 minutes," he says.Texting allows just enough time for crafting the perfect witty retort or quickly Googling something about a band you've never heard of just to appear in the know."Because we're so used to cultivating such false images of ourselves through texting, meeting is awkward.It's not perfect, it's not flawless, it's not like a rom-com. That's the nature of human communication."Which isn't to say that mobile dating apps are useless.

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