If the massive surge in online dating during the pandemic is any indication, this summer promises to be eventful for the legions of newly vaccinated, single Americans who are returning to their social lives after more than a year spent in quarantine. To usher in the beginning of people’s renewed dating lives, Tinder is launching three new features on Tuesday designed to make the app more “multimedia and experiential,” Tinder’s chief executive, Jim Lanzone, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Everybody coming out of COVID kind of wound up in the same place,” Lanzone, the former CEO of CBS Interactive who joined Tinder last August, said. “They don’t want to just get straight to the matching and connecting part. They want to have more ways to figure out first who the right person is.”
To find that “right person,” users might need an extra nudge to help them connect with matches outside of the standard swipe right, swipe left activity they’ve become accustomed to. And that’s where Hot Takes, a new interactive messaging feature, comes into play.
The app is building off its success from Swipe Night, a choose-your-own-adventure virtual miniseries that brought over 20 million users on an “apocalyptic adventure” and had them make decisions — such as whether they would cover for a friend who had cheated on their partner — to advance the storyline at pivotal moments. Those decisions were then added to their profiles to become fodder for conversations and led to a 26 percent increase in matches, according to Lanzone.
With Hot Takes, which launches on Tuesday, users will get to have a conversation with other potential matches — before they officially match with one another. If they choose to play the game, users will select from a set of responses to opinion-inducing prompts, such as, “If you do this, you can’t be trusted…” or “The worst thing you can text someone is…” Users will then be paired with another person online and can start a low-stakes conversation based on their responses to the same prompt. The only catch? They’ve got 30 seconds to chat and decide whether they want to officially match and keep the conversation going or let the timer run out on a flop.
Hot Takes will be housed on a new Explore section that gives users the chance to connect with a more curated selection of potential matches. Want to find other activists who share the same values? Love roller skating and want to match with someone who can join you at the rink? The Explore feature will help facilitate connections that go beyond just photos.
“It won’t all be on the surface,” Lanzone said. “The more you get to know people, the more you might realize that … a spark might be there with them.”
But that isn’t to say the visual aspect of Tinder will be fading away, either. As the final feature unveiled on Tuesday, Tinder is taking a cue from the massive rise in short-form video by allowing users to upload 15-second videos to their profiles. The short videos will appear alongside the photos that typically show up on a user’s Tinder profile, but they’re meant to provide an eye-catching way to introduce users to one another and appeal to Gen Z users, who make up half of Tinder’s userbase.
Though this may seem like Tinder is edging into the territory of TikTok, Lanzone said the dating app is not straying away from its core service or trying to become an “entertainment hub.” Instead, as users are increasingly seeking genuine connections with romantic partners, Lanzone said Tinder is responding to the way dating and human interaction has changed because of the pandemic — even as life appears to return to some semblance of normality.
“We want to [make these changes] so you have more chances to meet more people, more chances to meet the right person and be able to explore those possibilities before you have the pressure of meeting in real life,” Lanzone said. “Tinder has the possibility of being much more of a platform than a one-dimensional app, and we can do a lot more for our members to help them be successful.”