Cupid goes mobile in modern search for loveHow are single people looking to find that special someone as Valentine’s Day approaches? The same way people are doing everything else these days – on their smartphones.

While the idea of tapping out a flirtatious message to a prospective date in between playing Angry Birds and checking out last night’s hockey scores might not seem romantic, it’s at least practical for people the find themselves on the go with packed schedules. Serving that lovelorn market with apps that can foster a meaningful connection while you’re riding public transit (or in a boring meeting at work) has become a business model for several Canadian technology firms.

Take Ottawa-based SinglesAroundMe. Launched in 2010, the online dating service is made for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices, and harnesses the technology inherent in smartphones to help Cupid find his mark. Instead of looking for matches based on interests or a list of criteria, SinglesAroundMe simply searches for matches near your location. Using your phone’s GPS data, maps the location of single people who are looking for a serendipitous rendezvous.

While advertising your exact location to date-seekers might seem unnerving, arecent update to the app allows the user to determine whether they share exact location, an approximate location within 2-3 km, or hidden location. Users don’t seem to have a problem with the app’s approach, with a 300 per cent surge in daily downloads this month and more than 100,000 messages being exchanged between users every day, according to the firm.

SinglesAroundMe isn’t the only dating app tapping into the local trend. Last year, Vancouver-based Plentyoffish reported receiving more than 300 million month visits to its iPhone and Android apps. It saw an increase to its mobile traffic of three per cent per week, and was registering 40 per cent of US users via mobile. The app notifies a user when they have a potential match in the area, and allows them to communicate with the match to arrange a meet up.

Meanwhile, if you’re a woman that’s seeking a Valentine’s Day companion, then Toronto-based Lavalife offers the not-so-surprising advice that sending them a message might help. In a poll of its male members, 95 per cent said it would be “hot” to receive a first message from a woman, as opposed to “not.” But only 64 per cent of woman responded in the affirmative, suggesting there’s a gulf between opinion and reality.

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