Putting hook-up apps to the test: Grindr, Scruff, Tinder & Hornet

Putting hook-up apps to the test- Grindr, Scruff, Tinder & Hornet

Guys, which hook-up app is best for you? We road-tested four of the leading mobile gay sex apps, discovering just how much their design impacts on users’ behaviour.

It’s so easy these days you can hop online or onto a dating app, and ‘it’s on like Donkey Kong.’ But being a conversationalist, I can’t help but love a good chat too. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my one nighters, but call me ‘old school’ but there’s always been a process leading up to it. You know, flashing lights, thumping music, you make the occasional eye contact until someone grows the balls and talks to the other or simply grinds up against them and gives the ‘grope.’

grindr meme

In recent years, mobile dating apps have very much changed our scene. If you’re not a fan of clubbing or going along to awkward social groups, you either are left with that feeling of serendipity hoping one day you might meet the love of your life walking down the street, or you turn to pick-up apps. Now for those that don’t care much getting to know someone first, I get why they turn to them, as sex is pretty much on tap. It’s usually quantity over quality, but each to their own I guess.

When venturing into the world of dating apps, you have to ask yourself two questions. Are you just looking to get your rocks off? Or are you looking to make new friends and see where it goes?

I’ll be straight up with you. If you’re not quite sure what you’re after when getting into the world of dating apps, you’ll find yourself heavily disappointed more times than not. Knowing what you’re looking for makes choosing which app best suits you that little bit easier.

While there are hundreds of apps out there these are just a few of the best-known ones that I’ve personally explored…



Grindr is probably the most well known app, boasting over five million users in 192 countries.

With many of its profiles simply showing you gym selfies and headless torsos, you’d be right in thinking it’s a bit of beauty pageant. Considering you have only approximately 255 characters to use in your “about me” section on your profile and you can only upload one picture for browsers to see, you pretty much have to sell yourself like a piece of meat in the butcher’s window. For some this might be an easy feat but for the more less fortunate un-photogenic users it really does prove to be a struggle.

Grindr shows those closest to you, so if you’re in a highly gay populated area there’s always a new face popping up, but in smaller centres you may quickly ‘go through them all.’

In one of its most recent updates, the app introduced its new ‘tribes’ function which allows you to choose the group that you most connect to, as well as a filter feature that let you removes those guys that don’t interest you.

From my personal experience, if you’re after a gym junkie or a twink, Grindr really does have an endless supply of them. However if you don’t really fall between those two classifications it can be a bit of a struggle. And to be frank, it does often seem like there’s more bottoms that use Grindr than tops.

Grindr’s an easy way of finding sex near you, but if you’re chasing something more than just a quick romp in the sack, you may be disappointed.



If you happily fall under classifications such as ‘bear’, ‘cub’ and ‘otter’, or you’re a little more into kink then the usual vanilla users of Grindr, Scruff is definitely worth checking out.

Scruff states that over 50 million messages are exchanged every week between users, and checking out the apps Facebook page, a hefty 385,000 people like them, so it’s definitely one of the popular apps. It tends to generally attract the bears and jocks crowd, but there’s plenty of regular guys on there too.

With this app you can search for locals and even filter it on occupation, build, ethnicity and where they like to hang. Where Grindr profiles are somewhat restrictive, Scruff’s gives the user the ability to put more about themselves on their profile, which opens the door to more conversations than just the usual “do you want to fuck.”

I’ve found the types of users that Scruff attracts aren’t as superficial as those on Grindr and depending what you write in your profile, are the kind of people who want to find out more about you. While Scruff gives you the ability to sell yourself as a piece of meat, it also provides you with the opportunity to show yourself as more than that if you choose.

Personally I’ve quite enjoyed this app and the way that it caters to such a broad demographic. I’ve found myself building some great friendships from this app and I think it simply comes down to the fact that Scruff encourages you to be yourself no matter what classification you might fall under. You don’t have to be of the hairy kind to reap its benefits!



Tinder is an app for all sexualities and genders, and because of its wide demographic it’s obtained quite a large amount of users recently.

Basically it runs with the “Hot or Not” premise. You see a photo, you swipe left for ‘NOPE’ and right for ‘LIKED.’ Everyone else is doing the same and when you swipe right and that particular user also swipes right, you get the message “It’s a match!” Then, and only then, can the two of you start conversing. I’m sure there are many of who’ll say that it’s shallow and heartless to judge someone instantly on a photo (or often a range of photos, if you slow down long enough to check each guy a bit more in depth).

There’s something somewhat addictive about the swiping and it is way too easy to judge person at face value simply because of their picture. But the app is popular nonetheless and there’s a few reasons for that.

Predominantly I think that it’s because underneath the superficial judging premise of Tinder there is a human aspect that sees it somewhat keeping a foot out in the real world. One of the first things you notice is there’s no names such as “Horny Bottom”, “Horny Now”, “Discreet Top”… instead it’s actual people’s first names. This is due to app integrating with the user’s Facebook profile, listing the profile’s Likes function and mutual friends shared.

These little details make the people on the other end of the screen feel a little more real. Conversations if you do happen to match up with someone seem more civil and friendlier. The Facebook linking showing your shared interests often helps as a conversation starter and breaks down the barriers.

If you can get past the “Hot or Not” premise that I personally just find a little cruel, there can be some great connections to be made on Tinder.

And lastly, my personal favourite…



Hornet refers to itself as the gay dating app that Grindr should have been. Which is probably why Grindr recently adopted some similar features to it. It provides users with the ability to upload both private and public photos, so you have lots of options to show yourself off. Not only does it let you search for guys in your local area, but it also provides the opportunity to expand your search nationally and internationally. This is handy if you’re planning a trip away.

One strength of Hornet is its focus on security and safety. Making it the highest priority, they’ve ensured closeted users never have to worry about a hack or some other security breech. There’s the ability to browse users in “stealth mode”, and Hornet also reminds its users to get regular STI checks every six months.

I think the reason why I enjoy Hornet so much is it seems to provide the middle meeting ground between Grindr and Scruff, attracting a broad range of men of all types and backgrounds. There are some great conversations to be had and there’s no denying Hornet prides itself on listening to feedback and provided features that are handy to use.

There are plenty more apps out there, these are just four that I’ve played around with at various times. At the end of the day it’s about finding an app that works for you and your specific needs.

No matter what app you might choose to use, always remember to play safe and remember people might not always be what they seem. So if you’re going to meet up with someone whether it is to explore a possible new friendship or a quick romp in the sack, be smart about it, have an escape plan and most of all never feel pressured into doing something that you might not want to do.

[Originally posted on SameSame.com.au]

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Author: Chad St James

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