Dating app Bumble has been experimenting with a new way for its users to connect. The company has been quietly testing a speed-dating feature in its U.K. market, which allows users to join the app on a designated night and time to engage in brief chats with other members before they’ve seen their photo or matched. If the date goes well, the members can choose to match to keep the conversation going.
Reached for comment, Bumble wouldn’t confirm the details of the new service, but did note it had a product announcement pending.
The speed-dating feature’s introduction follows a number of attempts by rival dating services to incorporate speed dating or fast chats into their own offerings as dating app users tire of the usual swiping. Some of these efforts have fared better than others.
Tinder parent Match Group, for example, leveraged technology from its acquisition of Hyperconnect to integrate audio and video technologies into various brands like Meetic, Match and Pairs, including for “blind date”-style features. Tinder also launched a blind-date feature involving in-app chats as well as a Fast Chats feature for connecting before matching as part of its larger social platform called Tinder Explore. Meanwhile, Facebook in 2021 tested a video speed-dating service, Sparked, but shut it down earlier this year after it failed to gain traction.
In Bumble’s case, the new speed-dating service is being presented to end users as a game where users are referred to “players” who click a “play game” button to get started. The game starts when users see a “Live” icon appear in the Bumble app. Upon first launch, the players have to accept a set of dating rules — like “keep it respectful” and “don’t ask about their looks” — before they’re able to continue.
They can then chat with other participants in the app for three minutes before they’re shown each other’s photos. After the time is up, the players can decide to match and continue to a private chat.
According to data from product intelligence firm Watchful, Bumble has been offering speed dating on Thursdays at 7 PM in the U.K. However, according to some posts by users on social media, the service didn’t always have enough users to get the game started. Others who tried it had positive things to say about the experience, however.
As younger users shift to new ways of connecting online, dating-app makers have also been experimenting with different ways to connect people beyond the usual swiping. Video dating, for instance, has popped up in a number of dating startups — like Snack, Feels and Desti — as companies try to appeal to the generation that’s grown up with TikTok. But often, younger users are ditching traditional dating apps for lower-pressure experiences that are more friend-focused and casual. Snapchat’s platform apps are an example of this trend in action, as is Gen Z livestreaming app Yubo.
Over time, as users turn to these newer apps to socialize and meet people, the trend could cut into the core audience for traditional dating apps.
Bumble wouldn’t provide additional information about its plans for speed dating’s expansion, but did acknowledge its interest in exploring new ways of facilitating online socializing.
“At Bumble, we are always testing new and different ways for our community to connect,” a Bumble spokesperson said. “Like all tests, we will collect feedback before deciding if we roll it out more widely,” they noted.
Bumble has also recently been spotted testing a number of other social networking-inspired features within a platform called Hive, as part of its revamp of its BFF friend-finding platform, including video calls, polls, chats and more.
On its Q2 2022 earnings calls, founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told investors the company was interested in helping people find friends and connections through smaller communities and interests — like “moving to a new city, navigating parenthood, finding a partner for hiking” and more.
To date, Bumble has topped 100 million installs globally, according to data from Sensor Tower. In the first half of 2022, it saw approximately 13.3 million installs, up 34% since the same time last year.