"The whole idea is to recreate the serendipity of real life," he said.
There is no secret formula for an app to succeed, said Brooks, the Internet dating analyst. But "the more you can model the real world, the better you'll do," he said.
New mobile app developers realize this and are tapping into the wealth of information available on Facebook, while trying to balance users' privacy concerns.
"If social media was an option, I wouldn't enable it," said Lauren Durst, a research consultant in the District who has used Match and OkCupid. "That would take away some of the anonymity."
Spira says that just like online dating, people should apply common sense with an app.
"You have to use intuition and act the way you would in real life," she said. "Like meeting in a public place."