We all have to grow up sometime.
That's the bet dating app Hinge is making as it relaunches Tuesday. Originally launched in 2013 as another swipe-based mobile dating app, Hinge is doing away with swiping entirely. Now, it aims to be the place you go when you're weary from hookups and ready for a relationship.
"People who joined Tinder back in 2012 or Hinge back in 2013 are now getting to the point where they're actually looking for relationships," Hinge CEO Justin McLeod said in an interview. "That paradigm isn't working for them."
"It's like a casino," he said, "It's really fun to do, but the way the apps are designed, they're always getting you to swipe on more people."
The new Hinge looks a bit like Instagram as a dating app. Users can like and comment on other users' stories (the pictures they post or questions they've answered). If there's mutual interest, they can connect and start chatting. Connecting is the equivalent of matching on an app like Tinder or Bumble.
The underpinning idea, McLeod said, is to foster more natural interactions that will lead to meet-ups in the real world and, hopefully, relationships.
The change puts Hinge in territory similar to sites like Match.com and eHarmony. Those sites are relationship-oriented and pre-date the dawn of mobile-based dating apps. Those services tend to have higher fees, and skew older. The user demographics of eHarmony, for example, run from about 35 to 65. An app like Bumble, a swiping app in which women contact men first, is in the 18-to-35 range.
In order to figure out how to change Hinge, the company launched HingeLabs. It started collecting data and even produced a carnival-of-horrors-themed report named The Dating Apocalypse. In one survey Hinge conducted, participants ranked the purpose of dating apps from 1-10, 1 being hookups and 10 being relationships. While Tinder was about a 2, Hinge was between a 6 or 7.
Participants tended to want a service that fell in the 8 or 9 range.
Hinge also felt swiping wasn't the best way to find a partner. And finding a partner online is of increasing importance for folks -- 90 percent of American singles have tried online dating, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
Hinge isn't the only app to shun swiping. helloTruly is a recently-launched dating app that doesn't even allow for chatting. Users get a notification when someone matching their preferences is nearby, and they -- you'll never believe this! -- actually have to say hello in person. Another relatively new app called The Catch gives women the chance to ask three questions and pick a guy based on his answers.
Hinge is available for a monthly fee of $7.