Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you haven't made plans yet, fear not. There are a handful of helpful apps to make you look as though you've been planning that flower delivery for weeks.
From apps that help you set the perfect date to making a quick escape if dinner plans go awry, entrepreneurs are seizing on the nation's annual love fest to pitch their apps.
Here, we've compiled a selection of the most interesting (and mostly free) Valentine's Day-themed apps around:
1. NoWait: For dodging a restaurant wait (even when you haven't made reservations).
The app allows you to view a list of nearby restaurants, their wait times, and their distance from your current location. Once you settle on a spot, join the wait list from your phone. The service, which launched last September in Pittsburgh, expanded rapidly within three months, from five restaurants to 50. NoWait's restaurant partners use the company's iPad-based host and table management system, and its service is available on iOS and Android. Use it on Valentine's Day if your first-choice restaurant is more crowded than expected, or your reservations don't pan out.
2. ProFlowers: For last-minute flower delivery.
ProFlowers, a gifting company, just released an iPhone app last week, making it possible to send flowers next-day. If you're far away from your loved one or want a predate surprise, use this delivery service. The app has a user-friendly feel and allows for customization in that it allows you to choose how you want the flowers to make the recipient feel. Want him or her to feel desired? Appreciated? Celebrated? Most bouquets range from about $20 to $70, and if you want to mix it up, send chocolate-covered strawberries or a Godiva gift basket instead. The site has many gift options.
3. Hinge: For finding a date (who is not a stranger).
If you're looking for a date but aren't ready to dive headfirst into online dating, try Hinge as a happy medium between a real-life setup and online matching. Hinge launched last year and connects friends of friends through Facebook--as long as your privacy settings allow friends of friends to see your friends or public profile. Once you set up your profile, every day at noon, you'll receive up to 25 profiles to rate. If there's mutual interest, Hinge introduces you as a "match."
4. Delightful: For a curated date planned for you.
Delightful is a startup backed by OkCupid that launched out of beta last month. The company debuted its website and iPhone app that plans curated activities ranging from kayaking to painting classes to VIP nights in a museum. Depending on the activity, the price of a planned date ranges from about $30 to about $200. Unfortunately, the app is only available in San Francisco. So as an alternative, use the similar offering from the New York City-based HowAboutWe.com, which serves 25 cities across the U.S.
5. Fancy: For a new outfit and same-day delivery.
The social commerce platform Fancy launched its same-day-delivery feature in October. The service is reportedly available in 100 cities around the world, including 39 across the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Fancy offers high-end items including jewelry, sunglasses, bathing suits, rompers, tights, lingerie, and dresses. Use it to order a new outfit, or add a spicy accessory to one you already have. Just beware you might have to scour the site for a few minutes before you find something affordable.
6. Tabbedout: For a quicker way to pay the bill.
Even couples that never eat out will most likely do so on the 14th. To avoid waiting for the check at a busy restaurant--especially when you have a second part of the date to get to--consider Tabbedout. The app, which is available on iOS and Android, allows you to pay by selecting the restaurant within the app; reviewing and adjusting tab details, including tip; then receiving a receipt via email. Maybe not always, but on Valentine's Day, it might make for a faster exit. The downside? Only restaurants that sign up for the service will accept payment this way. But the Tabbedout website suggests contacting them to request new restaurant partnerships.
7. Valentine Radio: To set the mood without worrying about a playlist.
This free app streams love songs and mood-setting tunes from 40 different romantic or lounge radio stations. Use it after your date out or while you cook dinner at home. It's compatible with iPhone, Android, and Google TV. One benefit of using this over Pandora is it stays active, so you'll never have to tap "still listening" and your date won't go silent. The downside is, the music selection is limited to whatever is playing on the radio from those 40 stations at the time. But for one romantic date night, it fulfills its purpose with minimal effort.
8. Date Escape: When a date goes horribly wrong.
This 99 cent app will not make your date more romantic. But if you're going out with a stranger and things go terribly wrong, Date Escape helps you leave in a rush with an excuse. It sends a fake call or text to your phone. All you have to do is create the message or record the phone call, then set the time you want it to be received, just as you would set an alarm clock. You can also create a call with one touch if the situation is dire. Let's hope your night doesn't resort to this.