When eHarmony first brought its iPad app to us a couple of months ago, I had the great idea (I thought) to put together a feature for TUAW around the idea of only the iPad app to access the very popular Internet dating service, find a date, and then review both the app and the date itself. So eHarmony kindly provided me with a couple months of membership, and I set to work using the iPad app to craft my profile, find some nice women to date in Los Angeles, and eventually go out with one of them.
Unfortunately for eHarmony, my lack of appeal outlasted their service, and despite chatting with a few nice women, none of them wanted to meet me over dinner or drinks. But I can't fault the iPad app itself. The whole experience is really impressive, featuring an interface that I actually enjoyed using more than the official web site. If you're a real loser like me, eHarmony still won't guarantee you a girlfriend or boyfriend. But if you're already using the service and have an iPad, the app is definitely worth a look.
The whole process is surprisingly quick and clean on the iPad -- the app's interface is modeled around a big circular table of sorts, with the view zooming and rotating around to look at various physical items portrayed on the screen. Your sign-in page is a notebook, for example, where you can write your name and password, and then the view zooms to another book where you can enter your information and fill out your profile with the usual dating site information (likes, dislikes, personal information and questionnaires). After it's filled out, you can browse around the rest of the site, checking out a "Book of You" that has information about your personality and who you're compatible with, and your "matches" which are laid out like a series of Polaroid photos on the wooden desktop. The physical metaphor is really effective, and the iPad is an excellent medium for browsing through photos and information.
The app works smoothly (though my iPad is only WiFi, so I'm not sure how it loads over 3G), and there are lots of really fun touches, which surprised me a bit. When you first log in, there's a coffee cup on top of the screen, and you can actually play with it, causing ripples and splashes on the surface of the java. When you touch a match's picture, you don't just get transferred to their profile, their picture actually zooms over to another section of the table and then gets inserted into their profile page. This is all with sound effects, too. The app shows a surprising amount of design thought and consideration. I'd guess that's because eHarmony probably hired an experienced Mac and iOS development house to make it, but I don't know who that is (and the companies in those kinds of work-for-hire agreements don't usually talk about that anyway).
At any rate, the eHarmony app is terrific, and I actually did come to prefer it to using the main web page, mostly because the web itself doesn't offer up pictures of matches before you actually go and see their profiles. There were a few settings that I had to go in and change that I couldn't on the iPad version (specifically where my matches were supposed to come from. Being in Los Angeles, I obviously wanted to meet someone who lived close to me), but when actually browsing the service and reading and responding to messages, I found being on the iPad was the ideal.
The app is free, but to use it, you'll need an eHarmony membership, which comes with a few different prices. You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not that's something you're interested in. Some folks have found a lot of good relationships with apps like this, while some have a better time just going to a bar. As for me, my search continues. Ladies, if any of you are looking for a smart and funny professional blogger who knows a lot about iPhone games and enjoys running around Santa Monica, I'll be here!