It feels a little bit like cheating to use the media/blog circus’ favorite app de jour, but having watched three of my roommates pour two or three hours each into this iPhone app over the weekend, I feel justified making it what I’ve got for you this week. Tinder is new dating app that has been incredibly popular in a short period time among Harvard undergraduates. Media reports suggest that this has been the case at colleges across the country. The premise of the app is simple. Users connect the app to their facebook account. They are then shown the profile pictures of people within a certain distance of them, preferentially people with whom they share mutual friends or public “likes” (the number of friends and identity of likes in common is listed). They are also given the person’s first name and age. A person can opt to show another profile picture and to add several more pictures. When a user is shown a profile, they use a simple left or right swipe to indicate whether they want to be matched to this person or not. In the event of a mutual match, the participants are able to message each other.

Tinder managed to solve one of the great challenges in creating online dating services: getting women to use it. Historically, other “hook up apps” (apps showing you nearby available people) have been unpopular among women, unless they were attached to a full fledged dating website (okcupid, match, etc.) Women end up being bombarded with undesired and often creepy messages. Tinder solved this problem by a) only allowing mutual matches to message each other and b) not marketing itself as a hook up app, even though it shared a lot of features with traditional ones. In addition, the app has a simple and intuitive interface, quick game like payoffs (each round takes only seconds and someone continuously playing is liable to get somewhat regular matches,) and the security of being linked to facebook. 

app website: