Last updated on April 20, 2014 | by Aet Suvari0
AYI Review – are you interested?
AYI Review Ratings
Summary: The potential's there with Facebook and mobile integration but it looks better on the surface than it does when you dig deeper.
AYI started as a simple Facebook app in 2007 and then few years later it created a sort of iPhone app-craze with their GPS-enabled dating app. However, as they also have their own dating site we wanted to find out what our chances were in finding a good date through it’s dating site and whether indeed it was as popular as rumoured – not long ago we read that there are over 20 million Facebook profiles connected to AYI and 3 million members actively using it every month.
Sign up or enter through Facebook
First, when you sign up, you’re given an option to join through a standard email sign-up or through your Facebook profile. Should you choose the latter, you get to see all the users who you have common friends with, thus increasing your chances in finding an ‘online date with an offline method’, meaning through a friend, a colleague or an acquaintance. The Friends of Friends feature was only launched in March by AYI and apparently 2 million connections have already been made through it.
However, when we signed up we noticed that there was only one friend of ours who was connected to AYI though Facebook. You might say it depends on the number of FB friends one has but as we have around 600 FB friends worldwide, albeit most of them in UK and other European countries, we were a little puzzled to get such meagre results. We can therefore deduct that it must be hugely more popular in USA at the moment.
But let’s get back to profile-building, which is essentially the stepping stone to every single dating site out there. We have to say that as far as profiles go, AYI’s aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. Of course, being tied to Facebook there’s the possibility of accessing more information on the members Facebook profile but let’s stick to what the site itself offers – quite flimsy looking and pretty uninformative profile pages with some quite random facts thrown in: your favourite book, your favourite song, your favourite film etc.
Most of us can’t mention one or two of these anyway as there are usually far more than one that stand out in our minds as the bands or films or books we like. On the other hand, listing a whole array of favourites isn’t that exciting to read and although it might give a clear account of what you like, it says very little about who you actually ARE. Still, AYI sees that information as pretty essential in trying to find you your perfect match – but we’ll come back to that point later.
As a result of this, the profiles come out as quite messy, random and not really revealing much about the members. The design is really quite poor and the whole site needs a lot more work to be done to make it look contemporary and appealing. The whole idea is a bit of a mess and it took us some time before we got to know our way round on the site and how all the features could be accessed – not that there were that many.
Search, browse or intro?
What was also a bit confusing is the way there are three different categories of search, even though there doesn’t actually seem to be a need for more than just one. First of all there’s the ‘Browse’ category where you are shown photos of users and asked to rate the ones you like. Kind of like the ‘Hot or Not’ website from days of old. At the same time you can’t really get any kind of an idea about the person as you are only shown a photo. While photos are essential on a dating site it shouldn’t be the only thing taken into consideration when browsing through profiles! Call us old-fashioned but we really think there’s more to online dating than just photos.
Then there’s the ‘Intros’ feature where ‘Dr Smartypants’ supposedly uses science to find new intros for you three times a day. The science behind this feature isn’t really explained at length, except for claiming that interests and behaviours of millions of members are taken into account to create ‘one of the most advanced compatibility formulas ever’. Excuse us for being a little skeptical – but it really does seem that if you have, for example, marked Sex and The City or Kings of Leon as the TV show and a band that you like, you’re automatically matched with some of those millions of people out there who seem to enjoy the same thing. Granted, the more interests you mark down, the more accurate the result might be but it only reflects your interests and your likes, not really your personality!
Thirdly, you can of course perform a standard search as well. We were relatively happy with the search result numbers – we live in a big city in UK and it came back with 1500 results from our city as well as 5000 extra results from within the 50 mile radius. It’s good that it also lets you perform an interest search, finding, let’s say, all the Johnny Cash fans in your neighbourhood, but at the same time the results aren’t very easy to browse through and what you end up with is just a long list of names and photos with some random likes thrown in. We are not in high school any more to choose our dates only on the basis of the bands they like. It’s also not easy to tell how active those members are and those who might not be using the site any longer.
Free or not free?
If you like someone on the site, it does have a Facebook-type of a like-button attached to the profiles. As means of contact you can send messages (unlimited number if you’re a paying member) and/or use the site’s own IM-chat, which, by the way, is free even for non-paying members to use. It’s also interesting that you can browse users outside your own country with the paid premium package only. Also you’ll only be able to see who has viewed your profile when you have decided to become a paying member, at the same time, there’s an option to buy this feature as an account add-on for £0.99 a month.
There are, of course, the iPhone and Android phone apps as well that you can use on your mobile, with the same paid/free restrictions as above.
Overall our conclusion is that while there is potential with AYI, it doesn’t yet seem a well-oiled machine. There’s huge promise in the numbers (if they’re actually active members) and we fully appreciate the fact the ‘Friends of Friends’ feature could work nicely through Facebook. But this is a dating site on its own too and therefore it can’t just rely on FB, it needs to put in some work to make their site better and more informative than a list of things they like. After all, there are people out there who are not FB users but who also want to use online dating sites or wouldn’t want to link up their Facebook account anyway.
AYI Review: Pros and Cons
The membership numbers are very promising thanks to the Facebook affiliation.
The whole site is a bit of a mess and quite poorly designed..
And that concludes our AYI review, try some other dating reviews below if you’re looking for a better alternative.