Tinder introduces a way for members to go on virtual ‘blind dates’

Tinder is bringing back the idea of the “blind date” through a new in-app feature, launching today. Except, in this case, Tinder isn’t sending out two members on a blind date together — it’s introducing them to one another through a social chatting feature that will allow them to interact and chat before they can view each others’ profiles. The feature aims to encourage people to gauge their first impressions of one another based on personality and conversation, instead of photos.

Tinder parent company Match Group teased its plans for the addition during last week’s earnings, noting how Tinder’s still relatively new “Explore” section helps the dating app maker try out new experiences in the app to continue engaging its users. First introduced last September, Explore today is home to a variety of Tinder’s interactive features, including its “Swipe Night” video series, as well as ways to discover matches by interests or dive into quick chats before matching. The latter, which Tinder calls “Fast Chat,” also powers the Blind Date feature.

To use Blind Date, members will first answer a handful of icebreaker questions before being paired with someone else based on commonalities. They’ll then enter a timed chat experience where they won’t know any of the details about the person they’re messaging, beyond their answers to the multiple-choice prompts. These will be lightweight, sometimes even silly questions, like “It’s OK to wear a shirt ____ times without washing it” or “I put ketchup on____.” When the timer runs out, the two members can view each other’s profile, then like it if they want to make a match and continue getting to know each other.

Tinder says the new experience better reflects the dating culture of Gen Z users, who value authenticity. During tests, Blind Date proved to be fairly successful, the company says — those who used the feature made 40% more matches than those using another Fast Chat feature where profiles were visible. This encouraged Tinder to roll out the option more broadly.

Of course, there’s a bit of irony to a top dating app like Tinder introducing a way to connect users where photos are not the immediate focus. Tinder and other modern dating apps have been accused by critics of turning dating into a superficial environment, where decisions about people are made in less than a second based on the perceived attractiveness of someone’s photos. This has sparked an entirely new subgroup of dating apps to emerge which bill themselves as “anti-superficial” and more authentic. In these apps, photos are hidden or members connect via voice chat, among other things, in order to connect people first on personality, not looks. This group includes startups like S’More, SwoonMe, Jigsaw and others.

But instead of building out a whole new app for this type of experience, Tinder believes the concept of blind dating can be just an option within its own app.

“There’s something really special about letting conversation introduce someone’s personality, without the preconceptions that can be made from photos,” said Kyle Miller, VP of Product Innovation at Tinder, in an announcement about the launch of Fast Chat: Blind Date, as it’s called. “The new Blind Date experience brings a surprisingly fun, banter-based way to interact and create connections that’s all new to Tinder,” he added.

Blind Date is rolling out today in Explore to Tinder users in all English-speaking markets. It will roll out globally in the weeks ahead.