While it’s great to make new friends, meeting people can be awkward and uncomfortable. What will you talk about? Do you share similar interests?
Now there’s an app seeking to bridge the gap between “complete stranger” and “BFF”.
Mobile app Tinder displays short profiles (which include picture, name, age, and shared friends and interests) of people near you and allows you to express interest in making a connection or not. In the app, you can set your “preferences” to be matched with males and/or females, within 2 to 100 miles of your current location (location services enabled), between the ages of 18 and 50+.
If there is mutual interest in the parties getting to know each other, then the app allows both parties to connect, while still maintaining much valued user-privacy. Tinder doesn’t reveal your last name, email, or exact location. In fact, the app doesn’t have access to any more information than your current location and what’s available on your Facebook, and it is incredibly selective about the information it pulls from your account so stalkers and trolls won’t find you.
Once both parties agree to connect, Tinder’s chat feature allows users to send messages (text-only) back-and-forth until they are ready to take the relationship offline. Users can also abandon the conversation altogether and “block” people they don’t want as new friends.
But what about fraud?
Other matchmaking programs are littered with fake accounts of Jessica Alba and Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalikes. Tinder solves that problem by linking to your Facebook account. In a way, this legitimizes the accounts created, presuming users are using their personal Facebook account. Your name and age are taken straight from Facebook, and you choose images for your Tinder profile from your Facebook albums.
In an interview with Issie Lapowsky at Inc. magazine, Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, shares how the app gained initial traction and grew, “We had been picking up on college campuses, then everyone went home and told their cousins and older brothers and friends about it, and all of a sudden Tinder started growing like a virus.”
Although Tinder is used almost exclusively as a dating tool, J.J. Colao at Forbes reports Tinder’s intention to expand into business networking. This is ambitious given Tinder’s stigma as a dating app and, of course, users’ superficial nature. But anything is possible.
Let’s hope the app’s evolution brings new possibilities to mobile users who want to meet someone new, and not just for romantic purposes.
Download Tinder for free in the iTunes Store.