There’s been a continuous shift toward video-focused dating apps in recent years as more users opt for authentic connections that photos and text often fail to achieve. Throughout February — aka the last month of “cuffing season” — three startups are launching dating apps that use video in order to help users find love: Candid, Ditto and IRLY.
Video offers a more authentic experience for users who may have grown tired of mindlessly swiping for hours on profile photos that, honestly, start to look the same after a while. Not to mention, online dating has become plagued with scammers, catfishes and ghosting, making it even harder to find your soulmate.
This week, TechCrunch took a look at three new video-based dating startups that are using video to connect people in advance of their real-world dates.
Candid launched on February 14 to offer users a new TikTok-style dating app with video profiles to show off your personality. The 45-second videos are recorded in-app, so potential matches know the video was recently taken and is authentic.
Meanwhile, other dating apps allow users to upload videos to their dating profiles from their camera roll or social media, so the videos could be multiple years old or possibly taken from another person. Hinge recently launched video-specific prompts, which require users to record within the app.
Candid works in a similar way to Hinge’s new feature. Users can choose various prompts like “Why I love my pet,” “A recent shower thought,” “Perfect first date,” as well as “Freestyle,” a prompt that lets users talk about anything they want.
You can also pick several categories to appear at the bottom of the video, which helps the algorithm move the potential matches with similar interests further up in the deck, so users are paired up with like-minded people. For instance, you can select from various values, interests and goals, whether that be cooking, nature, spirituality, religion, etc. The categories appear as hashtags that move across the bottom of the screen.
Candid users can vote on other video profiles, selecting the most “creative,” “stunning,” “funny” or “candid” post. The videos with the most votes or reactions will have a banner at the top that states “#1 Creative” and so on.
In the future, Candid plans to launch features like touch-up filters on video profiles and the ability to video chat with potential matches.
Candid co-founder Sharon He created the app because she herself experienced online dating fatigue, swiping on hundreds of profiles and going on hundreds of horrible first dates — 155 dates, to be exact.
“I had this idea after I tried Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and many other apps for almost three years on and off. I’ve gone on 155 first dates,” He told TechCrunch. “Candid is based on all the frustrations that I experienced myself.” She actually met her co-founder, Kyle Kelly, on Bumble, who bonded with He over how they wanted to reshape the online dating game.
Right now, Candid is focused on marketing its app to colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area, such as UC Berkley and the University of San Francisco. However, the dating app launched in the U.S. for anyone to download. It’s available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
Video chat, in general, is a great way for users to meet online dates. There are plenty of video chat dating apps, including Hulah, Zepeel, Lovoo, Clover and Filteroff, among others.
We’ve also seen video speed-dating apps rise in popularity among companies looking to change the online dating game.
Even major tech company Meta dipped its toes into the space, testing a video speed-dating service called Sparked. However, Meta shut down the experimentation last year after it was unable to gain enough traction.
Video speed dating, however, remains an interesting concept for users who may want to first digitally meet their potential matches face-to-face, allowing them to figure out if the person is who they say they are before going on an in-person date. It also allows users to quickly figure out who they can carry on a conversation with. Video speed-dating apps typically limit the length of each call to less than five minutes — which is handy if you don’t want to come up with an excuse to end the call if you aren’t feeling it.
Ditto, for instance, hosted its first live video speed-dating session for users living in New York City on February 13 at 8 p.m. ET.
Formerly known as Iso Date, Ditto is the startup’s new video speed-dating app where users can have three-minute speed-dating sessions via live video chat. The sessions occur every Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Note that there is currently a limit of 30-40 people per session — but this may change in the future.
Ditto is currently available to New York users only. The company plans to roll out the app in Toronto and Los Angeles in late April or May, with future expansion in international cities in the U.K., Germany, France and Australia.
Before the user joins the session, they can select their preferences — age, gender, sexuality and interests. Once the event starts, a host will greet the user and explains how Ditto works before the user is connected to a live video call where they can speak with a potential match.
Each video call lasts three minutes, allowing users to meet up to 20 potential matches during the one-hour session. Ditto also has a $19.99 membership, “Ditto Deluxe,” which includes a “Stop the Clock” feature where users can pause the date during the session and extend the video chat.
At the end of every call, users have the option to “Like” or “Pass.” They can also review each other by selecting prompts like “Can hold a conversation,” “Funny,” “Serious,” etc. If it’s a match, the user can connect further via the in-app messaging feature or set up a longer video chat date.
Ditto is also partnering with third-party organizations to host video speed-dating events in the future, which will be centered around shared interests, such as yoga, dogs and more. Eventually, Ditto wants to host networking sessions and sessions for people to meet new friends, similar to what Bumble has done with Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz.
However, some users may be hesitant to use video chat-based dating apps since it raises the question of safety. Let’s be honest, no one looking for an online relationship wants to feel like they’re on Omegle or Chatroulette. That’s why Ditto uses AI to detect nudity or harmful images like a swastika tattoo. Ditto co-founder and CRO Luke Connolly told TechCrunch that the AI tech takes a short recording of the inappropriate video to help the company investigate the issue further, and then the video feed shuts off. The person then gets banned, and their account is removed, he explained to TechCrunch.
Ditto also has a report function that users can use at any time to report an incident with another user.
It’s available to download in the App Store and Google Play Store.
Another video chat-based dating app, IRLY (I Really Like You), is launching on February 28. Catering to Gen Z, IRLY lets users video chat with a potential match and play in-app games like “Truth or Dare,” “Would You Rather” and more.
There are also conversational prompts like “The strangest food combo I enjoy is…,” “The first thing on my bucket list is..” or “The most ridiculous thing I believed as a child is…,” so people have various ways to break the ice.
Users have the option to switch between “Live Mode,” which instantly starts a video call with a potential match based on your preferences, and “Classic Mode,” which lets users message matches and schedule a video chat for a later time. IRLY also gives users the ability to chat with video messages.
While not available at launch, IRLY is working on launching audio messages, virtual gifts, video profiles, as well as paid features. It’s also working on implementing an AI feature that detects nudity or other inappropriate content (which should have not been an afterthought!). A reporting and moderation system will be available at launch, we’re told.
IRLY was founded in 2021 by Canada-based university students Connor Rose and Laura Rollock. Social media influencer Cameron Dallas joined as a co-founder in November 2022.
“Dating apps are the most common way to meet people nowadays, but often fall short in delivering genuine and meaningful connections,” Dallas told TechCrunch. “We’re solving solutions built on a foundation of video chat-based communication that allows users to see and hear each other before meeting in person and break the ice with fun and engaging games. We believe this adds the human element to dating apps that people are currently missing out on.”
These apps aren’t the first to use video, of course. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and Badoo are a few of the big players that have been riding the video wave for years, launching features like video-based prompts for profiles and live video chat. Smaller startups have also experimented with different ways to incorporate video, like Snack, Desti and Feels.