Fed up of virtual friendships? Need to expand your real-life social world? Let technology help you branch out with these five apps.

In some ways, we’ve never been more connected yet research shows that Britons have never been lonelier. Blame it on social media, hectic lifestyles or what you will – but nine million (mostly elderly or young) people in the UK are thought to feel “often or always” lonely. Opportunities for real-life friendship are still out there, though. We just have to be a bit more inventive about pursuing them.

These five apps make hooking up with likeminded folk as easy as tapping on your phone screen.


Officially launched in the summer of 2016, Huggle is a safe, location-based friendship (and dating) app that connects users on the basis of the places they frequent, rather than how they look. Its glamorous, female founders came up with the idea over a cup of coffee, took it to a tech investor who’d backed Bumble and leaped into the creation of their new app from scratch.

Girl Crew

This one is a platform specifically for women to make new friends on. Its Dublin-based founder, Elva Carri, dreamed it up one Friday night when she really wanted to go dancing but found that all of her female friends were either too busy or too tired to accompany her. The app launched in 2017, and there are now Girl Crews in cities all over the world. Whatever you want to do – you’ll find a crew to do it with here.


No flirting is allowed on Patook (cool Artificial Intelligence blocks it). The app is strictly for making platonic friends with people nearby who share your interests. Founder Antoine Daher says: “A lot of the activities that used to happen outside and were conducive to making new friends now happen online… (so) people have fewer opportunities to make new friends after they hit adulthood.” Join as an individual or as a couple and be assured that your fellow users will be of all genders, ages, ethnicities and orientations.


Peanut connects likeminded mothers with each other and makes it easy for them to meet up. It’s the answer to the crushing isolation that having a new baby can cause. The New York Times calls it “the app for mothers who missed out on Tinder”. Founder Michelle Kennedy says she may yet produce something similar for fathers, but is happy to focus for now on “motherhood as a part of womanhood”.


Emphatically not a dating app, this one is designed to get you off your device and out in the real world. The team says: “Whether you’ve just relocated for work, travel frequently, or are just looking to meet someone to share conversation, a bike ride, or a game of chess, REALU can help you find people nearby in real time.” We hesitated to include it in our list, because it is not yet available in the UK. But you can use it while travelling in the US and must pounce on it when it hits our shores…

December 2019