Dating app Tinder trials new video calling feature. Image credit: Unsplash
  • Tinder is trialing a Face to Face feature where matches can video call each other making dating easier amid a pandemic.
  • Since the coronavirus outbreak spreading like wildfire since March, Tinder has seen both an increase in the amount of user activity and daily users
  • Tinder is relatively late as most of its competitors in the likes of Bumble, The League, Hinge have launched similar video calling features much earlier

Whether it is for casual tete-a-tetes and flings or serious relationships, it’s no secret that most people turn to online dating in their quest for love. The days of meeting a special someone in a chance encounter in a coffee shop or on the dancefloor were numbered even before the Coronavirus pandemic with dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble playing the role of cupid.

And now, inevitably, dating at the time of a pandemic has become increasingly tricky as the global health crisis has forced most to stay indoors. However, dating app companies developed a few solutions for those looking for love amid lockdown. Now, Tinder has launched video chats in its app where couples can have virtual dates without having to exchange phone numbers or email ids. Until now, users would have to use other apps after matching for video calling or exchanging pictures.

The ‘face-to-face’ feature has been primarily been launched for users in 13 countries including the US, Brazil, South Korea, Australia among a few others, and will be rolled out in other parts of the globe as well.

Tinder tests video chat feature for users to go on virtual dates. Image credit: Tinder

Commenting on the new launch, Tinder’s head of Trust and Safety Products, Rory Kozoll said:

“Connecting face-to-face is more important than ever, and our video chat feature represents a new way for people to get to know one another in-app no matter their physical distance.

“Face to Face prioritizes control to help our members feel more comfortable taking this next step in chats if and when it feels right for them. We’ve built a solid foundation, and look forward to learning from this test over the coming weeks,” Kozoll added.

Ensuring safety and privacy for both parties involved

In terms of its working, before two interested lovers get into a call, Tinder establishes a few ground rules. The feature, Tinder said, will not be enabled until both matches opt-in and agree for a chat. In addition, given how there can be risks of online sexual abuse, Tinder will require both parties to keep the call PG which means strict rules against nudity, sexual content, hate speech, violence, or talks of illegal activities.

With respect to the interface, unlike video calls on WhatsApp, the screen will split into half so users can see themselves as well as their match. “We intentionally did this split-screen, so you know exactly what you look like on the other person’s phone, so you can feel a little bit more comfortable,” Bernadette Morgan, senior product manager on Tinder’s trust and safety team said. “And then also, we are hoping that it promotes conversation. By having an equal size, you can see the other person [and] they can see you, so hopefully, it fosters conversations because conversations are a two-way street.”

Read Also: 12 Free Weather Apps and Weather Widgets for Android

After a call, the app will ask both parties whether they would like to have a Face to Face again. This is where users will have the option to report the other should a need arise. While this is to eliminate the risks of sexual abuse, it’s not clear how Tinder will intervene for police calls or how the company plans to protect users during inappropriate chats.

Alongside ensuring user safety, the app firm assured that it will not record calls and will give complete privacy to its users.

“We kind of consider ourselves the hosts of a party … we’re having our friends over, we’re introducing people and we hope they hit it off. But it’s not our job to eavesdrop on every conversation,” Kozoll said.

“Like any good host, we look to our friends at the party to let us know if something is going wrong, and if something is going wrong, that is when we’ll take action.”

This move was announced by parent company Match as a part of its first-quarter earnings report where it said it was essential to keep up with the times – especially with Coronavirus looming. Despite lockdown, Tinder witnessed escalated engagement where its average number of daily messages climbed by 27% in April compared to February. Additionally, daily active users and swipes “reached all-time highs,” it said in the report.

A few months too late to the party?

While this move might encourage more people to sign up and go on digital dates, the question is whether Tinder is slightly late in doing so.

Its rival, Bumble introduced its video calling feature in June 2019. Facebook announced it would add video for its Facebook Dating users and Hinge too rolled out its ‘Date from Home’ feature where users could have video chats.

While time will tell whether this new feature helps users find their soulmate despite lockdown, having a romantic liaison via a video chat might prove to be a happy ending for everyone. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more