Hinge is launching a way for people in relationships to get in on the dating app craze alongside their single friends. No, not like that! The company today is introducing a new, standalone app called Hinge Matchmaker that will allow people to see which of their friends are on Hinge, and then make recommendations by suggesting potential matches.
According to Hinge founder Justin McLeod, the new app is more of an experiment at this time, meant to gauge consumer interest in this type of service.
“We found a lot of people who felt like they missed out on the dating app craze wanted to be able to participate in some way,” he explains. “A lot of times, people will pull out their friend’s phone and swipe for them on other apps.”
This is true, actually. Passing around the phone and letting friends pick for you is fairly common among dating app users, but that’s often because swipe-based apps like Tinder sometimes feel like a game. And everybody wants a chance to play.
Hinge, instead, is trying to elevate that behavior into something more serious: real matchmaking.
The new app, Hinge Matchmaker, is the company’s initial stab at how this experience could work. Eventually, the team may consider porting the matchmaking functionality to the main Hinge app, if it’s well received.
However, the company believed that it would first make more sense to launch matchmaking in its own app, given that Hinge today is known as a dating app. For obvious reasons, then, it might not be an appropriate for someone who’s married or otherwise involved to download Hinge to their phone.
The new app works by suggesting potential matches, based on the matchmaker’s pool of Facebook friends who are using Hinge.
The matchmaker can then recommend that the two people connect, and can even send an icebreaker message to get the conversation started. There’s also the option to take control of one specific friend’s dating life by locking their profile, which will then allow the matchmaker to rotate through the available matches for that person alone.
Of course, not all of a matchmaker’s single friends will be on Hinge. To broaden the group of potential matches to choose from, the matchmaker can choose to invite anyone from their phone’s address book to join Hinge. And single people who want help in finding matches can also invite their coupled-up friends to install Matchmaker, as well.
The idea of matchmaking for friends is something that’s common out in the real world. But it’s not something that’s been fully implemented in the world of dating apps at this time, beyond features like Tinder’s ability to “recommend” a profile or the sharing options found in other apps.
In those cases, though, the friend making the suggestion doesn’t usually know who it is they’re recommending personally – they just like the profile. They’re also generally another single person, given that they had a dating app profile in the first place.
On Hinge Matchmaker, the user would know both parties involved, as it relies on your Facebook connections, and the matchmaker could be either single or involved themselves.
Naturally, there will be Hinge users who aren’t comfortable with allowing their extended social network to know that they have a dating app profile. As you may recall, when Tinder launched its “social” feature last year, people were freaked out that one of its side effects was that it would reveal a full list of all your Facebook friends who were also using Tinder.
Hinge has taken this into consideration, and built an opt-out mechanism into its app that will prevent your profile from being shown to those playing matchmaker, if you choose.
The new app makes sense as the next step for Hinge, which is billing itself as the alternative to apps like Tinder and Bumble, which far more often are filled with people looking for hookups and more casual dating. Hinge, instead, wants to help people find real relationships, it says.
The company even redesigned its app last fall to move away from the swipe-based mechanisms of its rivals to focus on profiles that tell a story, and require a little more effort to create than just uploading a photo.
McLeod says those changes have helped the app.
“We’re seeing five times the number of dates per person happen on the platform, relative to the old version of Hinge,” he says. “And we’re seeing really good uptake of people who are subscribing to Hinge,” McLeod adds, referring to the newer option to upgrade to a premium version of the service with an expanded array of filtering options and other features.
The company didn’t share downloads or the number of active users, nor did it speak about how many matches in total it has made. But the Hinge did say that its user base has doubled since March, and phone numbers are exchanged 4x more than they were in March.
That being said, Hinge is still a smaller app in comparison to those dominating the dating app space, like Tinder. In the “Lifestyle” category on the iOS App Store, Tinder is #2, Bumble is #4 but Hinge is #64, to give you an idea of its traction.
Hinge MatchMaker is launching today in beta on iOS.