Zoosk, which started out as one of the first integrated Facebook apps back in 2007, aims to be one of the easier dating apps to start using. All you need to do is connect your Facebook or Google account before searching for love. The problem is, who wants to just give their personal info away in this day and age? More to the point, Zoosk also doesn’t force you to make especially deep profiles, which makes finding compatible matches more difficult. If you’re really looking for love, we suggest heading over to our Editors’ Choice dating app, Match. Its monthly subscription price is more than you’ll pay with Zoosk, but the entire ecosystem better sets you up for meeting “the one.” If you’re a mobile user in more of a hurry, our other Editors’ Choice, Tinder, is the dating app for you.
Getting Started With Zoosk
Zoosk is available as both an iOS app and Android app, as well as via web browser. We tested on iOS and on desktop and found the experiences pretty similar. Whatever you platform pick, the app prompts you to sign up with Facebook or through your Google account, an option many rivals don’t offer. You can choose to not link either account, but that means you start with a bare-bones profile. After you tell Zoosk your age and who you’re looking for, the service prompts you to upload a photo, fill out a short self-assessment that includes body type, parental status (no specifics needed, just if you have kids or not), education, ethnicity, and the all-important smoker-status question. Unfortunately, we found lag, crashes, and a parade of error messages during this process.
After providing that surface-level information about yourself, you’re ready to browse. Other apps, like eharmony, OkCupid, and Match, require a more extensive profile-building process to make sure you’ve revealed enough about yourself to snag a proper match. Our other Editors’ Choice, Tinder, is geared more toward the hookup scene and prioritizes photos over soul-searching profiles.
While you’re searching, Zoosk regularly prompts you to add more profile information and confirm your email. Once your email is confirmed, you’re allowed to select a display name and add a profession, income, and marital status, (you’d think this would have been important enough to ask in the initial round of questions) along with some tappable interest tiles reminiscent of Facebook in the late 2000s. For example, the Media tile lets you call out your favorite bands, sports, books, and even people you like. If you want, you can also add essays about yourself, your perfect match, and your ideal date. This is more free-form, as compared with the extensive personality quizzes that eharmony and OkCupid use to find your ideal matches.
Zoosk’s search function is at least quick and easy to understand. There’s no swiping left or any other way to discard profiles that don’t interested you. You just scroll past them one by one. Scroll down to see a new profile; if you find a potential match, you scroll right to see photos and profile information including location, age, physical characteristics, interests, and so on. Scroll back up if you think you bypassed someone you might be interested in. Most apps, including Tinder, make you upgrade or pay to see someone you’ve already rejected. The priority here is clearly on profile pictures and not on personal info, but for a quick, simple search function, it’s effective.
If you want that Tinder-esque experience, Zoosk also offers a separate Carousel search function that lets you tap a red X or a green check mark to indicate your feelings on that member. However, unlike Tinder, once you make that choice, you don’t get to go any deeper into a user’s profile. And if you want to change your mind, here you do have to pay extra (more on that in a minute).
Interface and Profiles
Zoosk’s interface is pretty basic—you mostly swipe through profile photos and review the basic personality details required by the signup process. Want to learn more? There’s a prompt to read someone’s story, which includes their personal bio and details on their perfect match and ideal dates, if they added them.
If you want to express interest in a fellow member, you can tap a smiley face, which indicates friendship, or a heart icon, which indicates…more than friendship. Once you start browsing, it feels like viewing a parade of people who couldn’t be bothered to even fill out a name—plenty of profiles serve up “A Zoosk member,” and that’s it. For extra credibility, you can verify your profile using a photo, your phone number, or Twitter. This slaps a green check mark on your profile to prove you’re legit.
Then there are the ads. Oh, the ads. Other dating apps serve you advertisements, but none with the ferocity of Zoosk. Every three to five profiles you swipe through are punctuated by an advertisement of some sort. You’re also regularly prompted to rate the app, which is an intrusion that occurs rarely if at all on other apps. If someone views your profile, you need to either pay for a subscription or watch an ad to see who it was. Ironically, that may be an ad for another dating service.
Zoosk sends you an email every day highlighting one person whom the service feels like you match with based on your preferences, which takes some of the work out of searching. And the potential dates did seem like they were a good fit, showing that Zoosk is at least paying attention to your wants and needs.
Speaking of which, Zoosk uses an algorithm called “Behavioral Matchmaking” that claims to learn more about what you’re looking for in a match. This very well could have been the reason why the email recommendations seemed on point.
Compared to eharmony and Match, Zoosk’s premium subscriptions are reasonably priced. But they don’t give you many additional features, the descriptions are not abundantly clear about what you actually get, and the service still doesn’t surpass the similarly affordable OkCupid, which lets you contact members for free. A one-month subscription to Zoosk costs $29.99 while a six-month subscription costs $12.49 per month. The paid plan only offers you the freedom to send messages, unlock who’s viewing your profile, and use SmartPicks. The SmartPicks feature offers a more guided search of profiles who match closely with profiles that you’ve liked in the past and removes profiles with info that matches profiles you’ve previously declined.
There are plenty of other ways to spend money on Zoosk. For example, you can also sign up for a monthly $9.99 Instant Crush membership. The service is poorly explained, but Instant Crush allows you unlimited “redos” on the Carousel, pushes your profile into other users’ Carousels, and sorts your sent messages to the top of the receiver’s inbox with a big yellow star.
Zoosk Coins are another option. These allow you to Boost your profile and cost $19.99 for 180 coins or $99.99 for a big bag of 1,800. Boost raises the visibility of your profile, a feature offered by many other dating services, but this one lets you vary the amount of Boost and can top out at 100 coins (meaning your $20 purchase disappears quickly). Coins can also be used to browse anonymously (30 coins for 30 minutes) if you feel like creeping on other users. You can also give coins to other members who’ve viewed your profile—which just feels dirty.
Confused by all these options? Same here.
One free feature you get is called Super Send. It’s more or less dating app spam—you can pick a Zoosk-prepared message or write one yourself, then send it to “a large group of people in your area and age range.” At that point, “interested people respond and you can start chatting,” but it seems more like dating via shotgun-blast. You are limited to just one per 15-hour period, but it’s tough to imagine why anyone would respond to this.
Social Distancing With Zoosk
Disappointingly, Zoosk hasn’t pivoted at all toward virtual dating the way other apps have during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zoosk blog actually points readers towards other apps when talking about dating under quarantine. The closest thing Zoosk has to video chat, and this is really a stretch, is that the service is loosely affiliated with Lively, a live streaming app more for trivia than romance.
For true virtual dating, turn elsewhere. Bumble, eharmony, and Match all have built-in video chatting. Hinge lets users set-up video calls on other apps. Tinder now lets you match and chat with folks in other countries or back on college campuses for free. Facebook Dating is just part of the larger Facebook communication ecosystem which also includes Messenger and the experimental new Tuned app for quarantine couples.
Zoosk’s interface isn’t as user-friendly as competing apps, and it constantly serves ads as you search for Mr. or Ms. Right. Your profile only needs to be surface deep and you’re allowed to browse potential matches after giving very little information about yourself. Plus, there are just too many ways to spend money. That said, Zoosk has an effective search tool, and offers daily email match recommendations to try to keep you focused. However, if you’re really looking for love, for all time or just for the moment, we recommend Match and Tinder, our Editors’ Choice picks for dating apps.