When you think about dating apps, Tinder might be the first that springs to mind. The swipe-based app, along with countless others like Bumble, lets users reject fellow singles with a mere swipe of a finger and after nothing more than a cursory glance at their photos and a half-hearted look at their bio. The swipe function is a famously easy way for people to rack up matches and potential hookups, with some men swiping right on virtually everyone to increase their luck, and users able to easily fit in some mindless swiping while stuck on the train or in the supermarket queue.
However, swipe-based apps are regularly accused of encouraging shallow behaviour, they make it difficult to know if you'll have anything in common with someone and often result in half-assed, dead-end conversations. Indeed, a sizeable proportion of online daters feel this way. According to research with 5,000 British 18-to-30-year-olds by the dating app Badoo, 68% dislike swiping and matches based on appearances alone, believing it’s a meaningless way to connect with other people.
Now, dating apps are eschewing swiping altogether. Badoo recently announced it will be ditching its swipe feature this summer in favour of video streaming. Badoo Live, which is currently being tested, will let people broadcast themselves to potential dates in a similar way to Facebook Live, whereby video streams can be watched live or in playback mode and users can send messages during a broadcast. Once two people have matched, the potential lovebirds can start a live video chat. The company says this will let people's "real personalities shine through" and "encourage more genuine connections and real life interactions".
I love the element of mystery of online dating. Not knowing what someone will be like is part of the fun.
Some women believe it could also increase their safety when online dating. Catherine Williams, 32, says live streaming adds "another level of safety before you meet someone" and is therefore a good idea. "Badoo has a bad reputation for the calibre of men they have on there, so I'd use it to help scout out who's genuine or who's a catfish. I've had that happen on there before." She's not entirely sold on the idea, however. "I love the element of mystery of online dating. Not knowing what someone will be like is part of the fun."
Some also believe that livestream online dating could result in more unwanted images. "The number of guys out there who only send dick pics is already off the charts. This is just going to be a live dick show," says Maria Stafford, 26, comparing it to the online chatroom Chatroulette, which lets users have video conversations with random people worldwide, although the app says measures will be in place to prevent this. Stafford admits "it’s an interesting concept with regards to checking if someone is who they say they are," but that won't be enough to convince her to delete Tinder, Bumble and the like. "Chatting is easier on swipe-based apps and can happen at any time, rather than having to set time aside for a live chat."
Other dating apps such as Hinge, which markets itself as being less superficial than Tinder, and Huggle, which connects you to people who hang out in the same haunts, are gaining in popularity. Hinge, founded in 2012, uses your Facebook friends to facilitate connections, pulls information from your Facebook profile (your age, location, education, job) and invites you to answer ice-breaker style questions (such as "go-to drink order" and "three emojis that describe me"), making for an arguably more personal online dating experience.
In 2018, it feels like we should have come further than judging someone on whether we would or would not bang them.
"Hinge allows you to have a more natural conversation than Tinder or Bumble because of the way it’s set out, with the questions and the ability to start conversations about individual photos or answers," says Jennifer Roberts, 27. "People would message me things like 'I also hate camping,' whereas on swipe-based apps you’re just going on whether or not you think someone is fit, which leads to the tedious, 'Hey, how’s your week going/big weekend plans/big weekend?' depending on which day of the week it is.”
While non-swipe-based apps may not necessarily increase your chances of finding The One – if you click with someone it doesn’t really matter how you met – the early stages of chatting can feel more natural and they may increase your chances of having a personable connection sooner. "I find Hinge makes it much easier to discover common ground and start a meaningful conversation instead of the dreaded cold start. Some people love that but it's definitely not for introverts like me," says Anna Greenwood, 26. "In 2018, it feels like we should have come further than judging someone on whether we would or would not bang them, and apps like this make it easier to conceive of someone as more than just a potential shag."