Ah, Valentine’s Day. A chance to smugly relish in the joy of love, or an unwelcome reminder of bygone lovers and the terrifying prospect of perpetual loneliness?

Love has been on our minds ever since Japanese electronics manufacturer ‘Groove X’ displayed its tiny robot offering, Lovots, at CES this year. The utterly adorable little bot is something of a hyper-sentient electronic pet. It waves its arms around, signals when it wants to be picked up, and can dance, hug and otherwise interact with its owner. Designed to be a viable companion for the lonely, the tiny bots feature over 50 sensors and multiple CPUs so that they can learn their owner’s face, greeting them when they come home, and warming up in their presence.

Although we would like to think that these captivating little companions could provide the antidote to the melancholia of facing another month alone, the ubiquity of dating apps, expected to amount 279.8m users worldwide by 2024, suggests that we aren’t ready to give up on humans…just yet.

In light of this,we thought we’d explore some of the latest trends and developments in the world of dating apps. Sit tight, Tinderella.  

INCREASING USER ENGAGEMENT: TINDER TO ROLL OUT ‘SWIPE NIGHT’ FEATURE

‘Swipe Night’ was launched by Tinder in the US in October 2019. The in-app series that ran every Sunday evening throughout October, popped up when users opened the app and presented them with a dystopian, pre-apocalyptic scenario. The interactive story instructed users to follow a group of friends on their journey through the world, prompting them to make off the cuff decisions about how they would navigate certain situations, and how they would most like to spend their last few hours on earth.

The choices made by a user during ‘Swipe Night’ then became visible on their profile. The idea was that ‘Swipe Night’ created a shared experience for potential matches, who could compare and discuss their respective answers.

Swipe Night was designed with Gen Z in mind, which makes sense given that almost half of Tinder’s user base now belongs to Gen Z, and that number is only growing.

The story boosted user engagement with the app markedly, resulting in a 26% increase in matches on the app, and a 12% increase in message exchanges.

Tinder is set to roll out its ‘Swipe Night’ to 10 new markets in Europe and Asia in the coming months.

The single (and Gen Z) among us will be sure to check it out.

FACEBOOK DATING TO LAUNCH IN EUROPE

Some say that Facebook started as a type of dating app. It seems that with the launch of Facebook Dating in the US in September 2019, the tech giant is going back to its romantic roots.

Largely thanks to the huge pools of data pertaining to users that Facebook possesses, the social networking site saw an opportunity to leverage their deep user insights and deliver better matches than the likes of Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid.

Facebook Dating provides a unique opportunity for users to match with people who are attending the same events as them or involved in the same Facebook groups. The app can also present users with potential matches based on mutual friends, mutual schools and other Facebook activities.

Perhaps the most game-changing feature of the app is the ‘Secret Crush’ list. This allows users to list a Facebook friend or Instagram follower as a ‘crush’ they are interested in pursuing romantically. Users are limited to nine ‘crushes’ and the app only reveals ‘crush’ status if both users identify a potential match.

The ability to match with people in closely intertwined circles is pegged to be a huge competitive advantage for the app. Let’s see if Facebook can effectively play cupid in 2020.

SAFETY FIRST: TINDER INTRODUCES NEW SAFETY FEATURES

We’ve all heard stories of Tinder dates gone wrong, but Tinder are keen to help solve some of the problems that come from modern dating. As such, they recently announced that they will be introducing a panic button and a new photo verification feature.

The new panic button enables users to share their location and transmit alerts to emergency services if a date were to take a nasty turn. To complement this, the photo verification feature has been introduced to counteract the phenomenon of ‘catfishing’ (when someone uses a fake identity online, usually for exploitative purposes). Utilizing human-assisted AI, profile pictures uploaded to the app will be cross referenced with real-time selfies that is soon to be a requirement of all users.  

These new developments are the latest in a series of features that have been introduced by the app to safeguard users.

In July 2019 Tinder introduced a ‘Traveller Alert’ feature that warns LGBTQ users of potential dangers they may face when using the app in countries with discriminatory laws. In a similar vein, the app introduced Tinder U in September 2018, a feature enabled for college students to filter their matches to solely others studying at their institution.

We’re all for safe dating and pleased to see Tinder taking action.

NEW, NICHE ENTRANTS ARE SHAKING UP DATING APP FORMATS  

Despite the domination of global players like Tinder and the arrival of Facebook Dating on the scene, new, niche entrants continue to disrupt the space, experimenting with new formats and challenging the superficiality of mainstream dating apps.

Take US-based dating app S’More. The app launched in November 2019 and markets itself to those who seek to look beyond looks. There are no pictures or text featured on user profiles, providing users with only icons to reveal aspects of their personality.

Similarly, London-based startup Blindlee has opted not to utilize the traditional swiping format, giving users who are willing to take the plunge the opportunity to have a blurred, three minute video call with their potential match.

We must admit though, Match Group’s Ship takes the cake as our favourite original twist on swiping. Launched in January 2019, the app invites users to relegate the responsibility of finding a suitable love interest to their friends and family, allowing them to take the wheel entirely and swipe on a user’s behalf.

That’s our lot. What a time to be single!

We hope everyone had a fantastic Valentines Day! <3