Hinge is the new dating app at your fingertips. Is it the anti-Tinder, or is it just more of the same?
When something claims to be the new anything, it sends up a red flag. Once in a technological blue moon, however, something comes along that just might be better than the original. Remember when Facebook was the new MySpace?
Meet Hinge, the new dating app that's just launched in Sydney. Like Tinder, it imports your data from Facebook and employs the familiar swipe right for yes, left for no functionality, but it has a few key updates on the format. (Try Hinge for yourself here.)
What's new in Hinge that Tinder doesn't have?
- Hinge shows your potential date's occupation, location, and mutual Facebook friends. This data is taken straight from your Facebook account, so if your location is set to 'Sydney', Hinge will display Sydney, regardless of whether your match is five minutes away or fifty. Occupation is intriguing – like it or not, it's a factor on how we read people and size up potential dates, so knowing someone's place of employment generates more trust than Tinder. Displaying your mutual Facebook friends? Good, bad, or just plain awkward, depending on who the mutual friend is. Moving on.
- You can select tags to tell the world who you are, and match you to potential dates. Tags range from mundane interests like Foodie or World traveler, move to practical in Smoker or Vegan, and then hit downright bizarre at Zombie Survivalist and Secret Agent. I decide I'm definitely a Secret Agent.
- You can list ideal date spots, in case you're on to a winner. And if you match with someone with similar first date ideas to you, Hinge will helpfully suggest it – "You're both up for drinks!". Being up-front about your ideal scenario is also another way to judge and/or match with people. Drinks sounds like an excellent first date plan, brunch might be too much commitment for a first date, and a trip to the museum screams of pretentious wank.
All of this makes one thing very clear: Hinge is for dating, not hook-ups.
That's pretty obvious from the get-go. While Tinder claims to have 350 million swipes per day, it's viewed by the general public as a game. It's why "We met on Tinder" relationship stories get such a reaction – no one really believed it would happen.
Let's take a quick look at Tinder and Hinge:
- Easy to use. Tinder's functionality is superior to most other apps on the marketplace, let alone dating apps. And regardless of what other apps copy it, the swipe left / swipe right will always be Tinder's.
- Number of users. Tinder doesn't reveal user count, but it's safe to say it's in the millions. If looking for love is a numbers game, Tinder wins in sheer volume alone.
- It shows you mutual Facebook friends and likes. Bonus points if you like lots of the same things and have a few, cool mutual friends. Less so when your only match in common is a Facebook page you liked three years ago as a favour and have since forgotten about.
- You can upload new photos to your profile. Currently, this feature isn't available on Hinge.
- Dick pics. It's your number one place on the internet to get personalised dick pics from complete strangers. (If you haven't realised this is satire, please GTFO.)
- Hinge learns what you (and others) like, and uses that information to suggest better matches. They use a matching algorithm to find out if you tend to like fellow animal lovers, or if professionals working in the city prefer a first date to be drinks instead of coffee. Creepy? Clever? You decide.
- You can undo accidental passes. Passed on someone you meant to say yes to? Hinge lets you undo your mistake, a service Tinder currently charges for as part of it's Tinder Plus service.
- You can see degrees of connection, and you'll always be matched by one Facebook friend. Hinge takes the traditional concept of meeting new people through mutual friends into the mobile world. In order to even stumble across someone's profile on Hinge, you must have at least one mutual Facebook friend. You'll even be able to see your third degrees of separation – that is, which of your friends are friends with their friends.
- You have more ways to filter people before you make a match. Not interested in dating someone still at university? Don't swipe right. You don't have to muddle your way through an awkward conversation before you find out the 28-year-old cutie is actually on five-year unemployment streak, and only in Sydney till tomorrow.
- Tinder is a game to most people. Tinder even invites you to "keep playing". Swiping left and right on potential hookups is a fun way to cure boredom, but there must be a huge percentage of people who never take it any further than that.
- It's Tinder. How many relationships do you know that began with "It started on Tinder"? Exactly. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but they make up the minority.
- There are very few ways to filter someone before you match. You'll make a snap second judgement based on a person's profile picture, and maybe a few more judgements based on the rest of their photos. If you're looking for love, you'll be wading through dozens of sub-par conversations first.
- Jason Derulo. He will keep popping up like a bad cold. You can match to hear his new track, or swipe left to delete. I have a theory that if you swipe right once, you won't see his face again, so better to get it over with.
- Smaller sea, less fish. Not only does Hinge have far less users than Tinder, but the absolute requirement of at least one mutual friend severely limits your dating pool. I exhausted my list of potential matches in less than three minutes.
- "Servers are busy!" While researching this article, I came across this message a number of times. At the time of writing, the app had just launched in Sydney (with the launch party tonight), so the number of users in Sydney should be at a minimum. This doesn't bode well, but hopefully will be resolved soon.
- The existential crisis that comes with choosing tags. Does health nut count if you're an aspiring health nut? Does simply enjoying going to new restaurants really make me a foodie? And do I have what it takes to be a secret agent?
- Unable to load extra images. Hinge claims to display your last 25 Facebook profile pictures. For me, it's only showing 16. But this is a dog-eat-dog dating world, and if your best pictures were actually Instagrams, then there's no way to change that.
The question is: what are you looking for?
This is basically what it boils down to: Tinder is for hookups, Hinge is for dating. It makes perfect sense that the world of online dating becomes mobile-centric, because everything is going mobile.
We demand information at our fingertips – dating included.
A quick and dirty Hinge vs Tinder
- Most users? Tinder, hands down.
- Highest quality of users? Hinge, probably. At least your matches are likely to be living in the city full time, and therefore more likely to pursue a relationship.
- Functionality of app? Tinder, by a small margin.
- More likely to get a relationship out of a match? Hinge.
- Stickiness? Tinder doesn't release stats, but Hinge says that 85% of people who download Hinge are still active a week later, and 75% a month later.
What do you think of Hinge's use of tags?
The theory goes that Hinge's tags (full list below) are used to better match you to potential partners. The system falls down, however, when you realise that it's infallible. Suppose you swipe left on a number of people purely based on their photo, but by an unlucky coincidence they all happen to be animal lovers. What happens when Hinge starts thinking you simply hate animal lovers? How many awesome people with dogs you can walk together will you be missing out on?
Maybe Hinge should allow users to filter based on interests they don't want. Smoking, for example. Or worse: vegans.
Hinge's tags: identify yourself to the world
- Wine lover
- Beer snob
- World traveler
- Early bird
- Night owl
- Card shark
- Theatre goer
- Film fanatic
- History buff
- Science nerd
- Country clubber
- After partier
- Dance machine
- Leisure diver
- Sports fan
- Rc league all-star
- Lawn game-champion
- Beach bum
- Ski bum
- Adrenaline junkie
- Outdoor adventure
- Zombie survivalist
- Road tripper
- Political junkie
- Satirical news fan
- Armed services member
- Health nut
- Animal lover
- Tree hugger
- Goody two-shoes
- Midnight toker
- Die-hard carnivore
- Conflicted omnivore
- Secret agent
Can Hinge capture the interests of a young market?
Sure, meeting people online has lost the stigma that plagued it five years ago, and when Tinder launched in 2012 it shook the whole game up. Suddenly it was cool to have Tinder, instead of a shameful secret.
Hinge actually launched prior to Tinder in 2011 as a web-app. The mobile app was launched in 2013, and a year later raised $12 million in funding to take it to the next level. It's now launched in 38 cities across the globe. Sydney is their first foray into the Australian market, but you can bet it'll be making it's way to Melbourne and more in the near future.
“As long as we can own the dating market for people between the age of X and Y, who are single, there will always be a pool of people,” said founder Justin McCloud to Wired. Perhaps by including places of employment, their X and Y will be people who've grown up from Tinder but aren't ready to sign up to OK Cupid. We'll wait and see.
Want to start using Hinge now?
Download it here for free and start swiping to your heart's content.