By Olena Medynska
31% of respondents from the United States have been using dating apps more frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic. Major market players like Tinder and Bumble confirm an increased number of users and a more significant duration of chats. Dating.com Group, which stands behind numerous dating sites, says that in March 2020, the global market has increased by 82%.
This sends a clear signal to developers and tech enthusiasts: the online dating market is changing and offers new opportunities. In this article, we will discuss the following issues:
- How the pandemic has influenced the market
- Features implemented by industry leaders
- What is the future of mobile dating apps
Impact of COVID-19 on dating app features
When joining a dating application, most users want to find a person to meet in real life. However, the pandemic has changed the rules. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention require people to self-isolate and be six feet apart in public places. The World Health Organization names kissing the fastest way to spread COVID-19. All the above makes it rather challenging to find a partner for life.
Dating platforms not wanting to lag behind quickly adjusted to the new reality, offering original features and products. Below, we will discuss how the most popular online dating applications deal with the pandemic and the future of dating on the Internet. You will see no need to have to develop a unique or complex startup if you want to enter the niche. Learn how to create a dating app, market it, and you’ll indeed find your audience.
Since 2012, Tinder has been downloaded 340 million times, but only 6 million subscribers pay for the golden membership. While the number of new users and messages has increased by 10-15% during the lockdown, people are not eager to pay. That is why Tinder and many other dating applications have made changes in the pricing policy to motivate people to stay indoors and connect with others in the distance.
For example, Tinder’s Passport feature, which allows choosing any city to find a match (instead of using your location), is now free for everyone. The Tinder U program for students allows for matching with other scholars remotely while the campuses are closed.
Bumble, the second most popular dating app after Tinder, has also introduced a few changes. Its developers are working on new features to include in the dating app, such as video and voice calls. When physical interactions are limited, people are more likely to phone and hold dating video chats.
The company has implemented Virtual Dating badges, which indicate that a person is ready to chat by video. As well as Tinder, Bumble has increased the distance filter, and now users can find matches anywhere across the country, not only in nearby areas.
Even though Hinge is a less popular dating app, it has been on the market for over 8 years and has its loyal users worldwide. Its distinguishing feature is that users get a notification with a perfect match based on the Gale-Shapley algorithm once a day. To stay afloat during the pandemic, Hinge has added a ‘dating from home’ option to start video chats. Their developers are also working on a ‘date ready’ feature, allowing users to indicate if they are open for phone-to-phone sessions.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish was launched in 2003, and by May 2017 already had 90 million users. It is entirely free to find matches and send messages, although some features are available only in a paid subscription.
Even though Plenty of Fish uses the winning strategies of Tinder and Bumble, it started offering a unique solution in the times of quarantine. It has recently added a livestream option, and it is free of charge. This feature allows users to broadcast videos, and viewers can tune in. It is also possible to exchange messages with other viewers or with the host.
After substantial success in Asia, the livestream feature was launched in July 2020 in the US and became popular rather quickly.
OkCupid is well known for the many personal questions used to find the best match. These questions include favorite movies, political views, and thoughts on controversial issues. When the coronavirus began, OKCupid added new questions that concerned virtual dating. These are questions like ‘What is your perfect virtual match?’ or ‘What dating habits will you stick to when the lockdown ends?’
The company decided to follow the example of the market leaders and allowed searching ‘anywhere’ instead of limited to a particular location.
Developers and enterprises don’t want to miss a chance to enter the market, so new applications are launched regularly. Quarantine Together is one of them. This app was introduced on March 15 and quickly became popular.
After registering, users need to answer if they have washed their hands. If the answer is affirmative, they get matched with another user. After 15 minutes of texting, they can start a video chat. Even though Quarantine Together possesses only basic features, it’s refreshing, and people love that.
The future of the online dating industry
While the pandemic continues, users and developers wonder how dating will look when the lockdown is over. Will relationships change? Will people choose online over offline? Psychologists say that social life may significantly change: people may be willing to learn more about potential partners before meeting in person. It may also motivate them to choose fewer partners.
What impact these findings and predictions may have on the future of dating apps? Businesses believe that people will prefer matching on the Internet because there is no money or time involved. You don’t need to spend hours getting ready and hundreds of dollars to pay for a restaurant bill. Before the pandemic, dating in big cities like New York was costly. Virtual matchmaking may save users hundreds or even thousands of dollars on clothes, transportation, and gifts.
Executives believe that more apps will offer video content and communication. Dates might be video chats as a stage between texting and personal meetings to evaluate whether a person is worth the money and time. Hosseini, Match.com’s spokesperson, believes that video chatting gives an excellent opportunity to see whether two people have a spark before deciding to spend a few hours in person.
This technology may also help fight the ‘idealization bubble,’ a common term in online dating. ‘Idealization bubble’ means overly optimistic and overly positive ideas about a person you have never met. It usually disappears when you see the behavior and manners of a person in real life. A video chat can be a great way to burst the idealization bubble.
After long months of lockdown, people want to feel human contact and share their news and newly acquired skills. Most likely, they will do it via applications and social media. And the most convenient way is to use video chatting.
Another trending feature is broader content. Before the pandemic, users could write only a few lines about themselves and share the rest during a meeting. In the times of lockdown and isolation, people prefer writing longer descriptions. Many dating applications have started adding extra bars and sections to let users share more about themselves. To manage higher volumes of data, developers apply the latest machine learning and AI technologies to label texts, images, and videos.
There is no clear answer on how the pandemic will end, but it is evident that even in 2021, there will be partial restrictions. Restaurants and bars will be working in half-capacity, while social distancing will become a norm. People will be looking for interactions and turning to dating networks.
The dating market’s annual growth rate is 9.5% and is predicted to reach a total value of $2.5 billion by 2024. It is impossible to deny that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the rules, and companies have to find new solutions to remain competitive.
However, it is an excellent opportunity for developers and enterprises that are planning to enter the industry. Follow market tendencies, be innovative, hire a team of experienced developers, and you’ll be able to become a part of this fast-growing market.
The post The Future of Dating Apps and What Does Coronavirus Have to Do with It? appeared first on Home Business Magazine.