Bumble is the dating app that puts the power into the woman’s hands. For a man to be able to contact a woman, she must first have shown interest in him, adding a layer of security that other services lack. Created by one of the co-founders of Tinder, Bumble shares a lot of features with that popular app—specifically the concept of swiping to show your interest in a fellow user—but this app comes across much less like a meet market. If you are a guy who is happy to sit back and let the woman control the interactions, Bumble is your choice. And if you’re a woman who wants to take the power back in the online dating sphere—and cut down on all of the unwanted “lol u up?” inbound messages—Bumble is where you want to be.
Getting Started With Bumble
Bumble is available as both an iOS app and an Android app. You can’t log in via desktop—though the Bumble site is full of info about its philosophy, a blog called the Beehive, and a way to sign up to be a Bumble brand ambassador on your campus. I used the Android app during my testing.
Like many other dating apps, Bumble really wants you to log in via Facebook, but in this post-Cambridge Analytica world, you also have the option to use just your phone number (which is what I did). After inputting your digits and adding your confirmation code sent via text message, the profile-building begins. First up, the app asks for a photo even before getting to things like name, sex, and age. Of course, Bumble handily prompts you to auto-fill from Facebook again—and you’re given the option to add more photos right at the start.
Unlike most other apps, rather than making you pick a gender, Bumble asks what you identify as. The only other service I tested that offers a similar feature is OkCupid, which lets you choose between a number of gender identities, including Hijra, genderfluid, and two-spirit.
From there, you’re asked your name and birthday (which, again, you are prompted to use Facebook to complete). This is one of the few apps that asks for an email specifically for recovery purposes. I like that you are given the option to opt out of updates about events and promotions, which most other apps sign you up for without bothering to ask.
After filling out those simple requests, you can further beef up your profile. Bumble gives you the option to answer questions like who your dream dinner guest is, play “two truths and a lie,” or complete aspirational writing prompts like “Equality to me means…” and “My most recent act of kindness…” Aww…
You can also connect your Spotify and Instagram accounts, a feature that our Editors’ Choice, Tinder, also offers.
While the signup process is quick and easy, Bumble doesn’t ask you the extensive list of personality questions that competitors such as Match (another Editors’ Choice) and eharmony do. That’s good if you want to get in and matching quickly, but bad if you’re looking to make a more data-driven connection.
After your first sign-in, the app explains that Bumble is where you build your Hive (which is its term for everyone you can meet on the app—love interests, new friends, and even business partners) and promises to be “the easiest and safest way” to create connections. You then get a screen with a sweet story about how the app is built on kindness, empowerment, and respect (though it’s not above a good “be”/”bee” pun) and asks you to be kind, confident, and respectful. This is the first app I’ve seen that cares to set some ground rules at the get-go, even if this is the slimmest of requests.
Bumble is also the only app I’ve seen that offers you the option of finding not just dates, but also new friends (called Bumble BFFs) and even people to network with (Bumble Bizz). It’s equal parts dating app, friend finder, and pastel-colored LinkedIn.
I can’t really fathom utilizing Bumble for anything other than romantic connections, but if you choose to, you can make separate profiles for each mode. I did briefly experiment with Bizz and BFF. The business mode is mostly filled with one-person tech companies selling their side hustle or headhunting. Bumble BFF is a fine idea, but if you’re a guy, it only serves up profiles of other men—assuming I couldn’t be friends with women is strangely non-“woke” for this app (although I appreciate the privacy and security concerns this negates).
I picked the dating option, and again, Bumble surprised me with its inclusiveness, offering the option to be into not just men or women, but “everyone.”
Interface and Profiles
Since I indicated a preference for women, Bumble (now called Bumble Date) lets me know that “in our hive, ladies make the first move.” It even drops a little Tinder shade by reminding you that “gone are the days of dead-end matches and unwanted messages.” Tinder’s interface, by contrast, is based primarily on a hot-or-not finger swipe that’s focused more on looks and less on…everything else.
This is the point in the process where Bumble asks you to open your wallet. I’ll talk more about the cost of subscriptions and incremental extras below, but I opted for the free plan to start browsing right away. As mentioned, unless a woman expresses interest in you first, all you can do as a guy to show you like a fellow user is swipe right, tap the check mark icon in someone’s profile, or tap a heart (to show you’re really, really into someone). In theory, once you’ve told Bumble that you’re not interested in someone, they should no longer show up in your search results, but this doesn’t always work.
Bumble really wants you to check out profiles in their entirety—the app prompts you to view all of a person’s photos and read his or her bio before serving up the X (you’re not interested) or check mark (you are interested) at the bottom of the screen. That said, profiles are very photo-focused, signaling that, like Tinder, Bumble is more of a place for casual dating than finding your forever person. Aside from the main photo, profiles show a written summary of who the person is looking for, and profile basics like height, education level, pet ownership, and politics. From there it serves up more photos, Instagram and Spotify accounts (if connected), answers to the questions filled out during signup (“Nightclub or Netflix?”), and location.
Also in a nod to Tinder, you can swipe left and right in lieu of tapping the X and check mark to note your interest. As mentioned, if a user indicates interest and the other person matches back, then the woman has 24 hours to start a conversation (in same-sex connections, both parties can message immediately).
Once you have a mutual connection, Bumble gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and kindly offers up some icebreaker prompts. Despite the 24-hour limitation to respond to messages, guys can use a Daily Extend feature that allows you to keep the communication window open—basically like saying “please, please talk to me?” Otherwise, if the 24-hour window closes with no contact, the app un-matches you and the potential for connection is closed.
Members can browse, connect, and communicate with other members for free, which is a great value considering that competitors like Match and eharmony charge more than $40 for those features. You can also unlock an upgraded account called Bumble Boost, which offers Tinder-like features that let you see who’s interested, extend your matches if you don’t have a chance to respond within 24 hours, and reconnect with expired connections (which, of course, completely undercuts the value proposition of the 24-hour limit). Boost starts at $8.99 for a one-week trial, or you can pay $24.99 for a single month. Longer subscriptions lower the monthly cost.
You can also purchase Bumble Coins, which start at $1.99 each and give you the option to SuperSwipe a profile. This entails tapping a heart on the users’ profile to say “I really, really think I like you and I’m willing to spend $1.99 to show you in the form of an extra icon.” Each SuperSwipe costs one coin.
It’s a Woman’s World
There’s a lot to like about Bumble—its entire business is predicated on making you feel good about using the app. It allows you to communicate with connections for free, and its interface takes a potentially stressful situation and makes it somehow serene. Even if its photo-focused profiles give it more of a casual dating vibe, it’s an excellent choice for women who have safety and privacy concerns, and men who don’t mind letting ladies make the first move. For those looking for a long-term relationship, Match is our Editors’ Choice for dating apps thanks to its robust profiles and easy-to-use interface, but Bumble is a solid alternative, especially for women who want to play it safe in the dating jungle.