What do dating and real estate have in common?
Location, location, location.
This is what the recently launched (and proudly Canadian) iPhone app Tingle is tapping into.
“I went on like three hundred online dates,” says Tingle creator and AppSocial CEO, Ian Andrew Bell. “It was pretty evident in my own personal experience that online dating is a really crappy experience. It’s filled with all sorts of indignities and social transgressions and insults. It’s actually a very dehumanizing process.”
According to Bell, some key problems with traditional online dating are pathetic response ratios for men (who can send out 50 messages, only to get two replies) and the fact that singles are cloistered in front of computer screens instead of out on the town, where social interactions are actually taking place.
By moving online dating to a mobile app platform and allowing users to check into locations a la Foursquare in order to scope who’s single and available in any given bar, restaurant or coffee shop, Tingle (which is currently focusing on Toronto and Vancouver markets) makes it easier to break the ice, flirt and initiate conversation.
Dating apps like Tingle, Skout and the wildly popular gay dating app Grindr solve the age-old problem of deciphering (A) Who in this bar is single? (B) Who in this bar is actively looking? and (C) Who in this bar is straight (or, in the case of Grindr, who in this bar is not straight?)
But are such technological advancements making it easier for people to find love, or just easier to find tonight’s conquest?
“Grindr is mostly used as a hook-up service,” says Sam, a Grindr user who signs in three or four times a day. “It takes all the work out of going out and meeting someone, and allows us to cruise on the go. We’re all addicted to our phones, so it makes perfect sense that this app should be as popular as it is.” Despite the hook-up culture surrounding Grindr, forging a real romantic connection is possible. Sam met a man on Grindr last fall that he wound up dating for a while.
Innovation and trends expert and well-known speaker Max Valiquette believes Tingle to be a good idea in theory, but worries about the potential threat to female safety: “The Tingle folks are pushing the safety elements, such as being able to communicate without giving out your phone number or e-mail address, but it’s based on people knowing what someone looks like when that person is close enough to do something scary with that information. That could be a huge barrier, if the women don’t come, then the men aren’t going to, either. The worst thing for Tingle would be for a straight guy to join and find the male-to-female ratio is roughly the same as, well, Grindr.”
Bell acknowledges that not every user on Tingle will be looking for true and lasting love.
“There’s a definite immediacy bias,” he says. “But the reality is, I think the way most people use online dating is Now, Soon and Eventually. They’re always looking for Eventually. Occasionally, they’re looking for Now. Most of the time, they’re looking for Soon. Right now, Tingle is very much about Now and Soon. I’d like to get to Eventually, eventually.”
Tingle can be downloaded for free from the iTunes app store.
Sexy Typewriter blogs about her dating failures – online and otherwise – at Sexytypewriter.com