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Bumble launches 'virtual dating' feature to help users cope with isolation

Bumble recently announced that it has released a host of features on its app to help users connect with each other, even while self-isolating.

Bumble announced today that it will release a bundle of customised features that will help improve how people can connect with each other during this period of social distancing and as dating moves online. New features that are now live within the app include a “Virtual Dating” badge that will appear in users’ profiles who are open to date via video chat. This badge will allow Bumble users to find and filter their prospective matches based on who is looking to date virtually.

Bumble launches 'virtual dating' feature to help users cope with isolation

It might be a good idea to make your dates virtual, given the current pandemic. So Bumble is also expanding its distance filters to allow users to match with anyone in their country. Typically, the app allows users to connect with people within 1 to 100 miles of their location, but now users will see the option to connect with people “nationwide” in their app settings.

The company has seen a 29 per cent increase in messages sent on its platform in India and noted that more than two in five chats are turning into meaningful conversations with a large number of messages exchanged. Because of this increased usage of Bumble’s chat platform, the company is giving its users new tools to enhance their chat experience and enable them to get to know each other better. In addition to the app’s existing chat, voice call, and video chat options, Bumble users can now record and send audio notes to their matches and reply to specific messages within their chats.

Screenshots of Bumble's virtual dating features
Screenshots of Bumble's virtual dating features

These features come at a time when the app is seeing increased use across its platform. The company’s voice calls and video chat feature within the app has also proven popular during the pandemic - In India, Bumble saw a 17 per cent increase in video calls during the week ending March 27 compared to the week ending March 13. The average time for a video chat or voice call on Bumble in India is now 14 minutes.

Globally, more than 100,000 Bumble users have updated their dating profiles to mention that they are quarantining and have seen nearly as many mentions of COVID-19 and coronavirus.

In this challenging time, we see Tinder members finding new ways to connect. As an area becomes more affected by physically-isolating measures, we see new conversations happening there and those conversations last longer. This epidemic is also changing the tenor of connection in the hardest-hit places. More people are using Tinder bios to show their concern for others (‘how is everyone’) instead of their life motto. Many of our current subscribers are even reaching out across the world, using the Passport feature, to find solidarity with matches 1000s of miles away.

In these trying times, having someone to talk to can make a world of difference. And that’s why starting next week we will make our Passport feature, which allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, available for free to all members through April 30th. Our hope is that our members can use the Passport feature to transport themselves out of self-quarantine to anywhere in the world. They can check in on folks in their hometown, college town, or sister city, and find those across the world who are going through the same things. And if nothing else, they can learn how to say “hey” in another language.

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In a company statement issued on April 2, 2020, Tinder mentioned that the usage of Passport has gone up in different parts of the world. The statement says that rates of Passport use were up over the last week of March in Brazil: 15%, Germany: 19%, France: 20% and India: 25%.

“I’m happy we’ve been able to make our Passport feature, which allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, available for free to all members,” said Elie Seidman, Tinder CEO in a blog post that contains more details about how users have been interacting with the Passport feature ever since it has been made free. “We hope our members, many of whom are anxious and looking for more human connection, can use Passport to transport themselves out of self-quarantine to anywhere in the world. We’re inspired by how people are using Tinder to be there for each other, and we want to fan these flames of social solidarity.”

The post also mentions that daily conversations have been up an average of 20 per cent around the world; and that the average length of the conversations is 25 per cent longer. In the USA, conversations have been up an average of 19 per cent and the average length of conversations is 8 per cent longer. The post concludes that the phrases 'Stay home', 'be safe', 'social distancing', 'how are you', and 'wash your hands' are increasingly being used in users' personal bios.

Also Read: Dating while distancing: how e-meeting and wedding services cope…

In an article published earlier this month by afaqs!, we mentioned that OkCupid has also witnessed increased traffic ever since lockdown began in different parts of the world. “You wouldn’t believe it, but when people can’t meet in person, they still find a way to date. In fact, there’s actually been over 50 million intro messages sent across the world on OkCupid over the last month among daters connecting for the first time. With restaurants, bars, gyms, offices and entertainment establishments around the world temporarily closed, people are looking for human connection now more than ever before," says Ariel Charytan, CEO, OkCupid.

Ariel Charytan
Ariel Charytan

OkCupid allows daters to match and get to know each other through thousands of in-app questions on various topics. "From your thoughts on chai and pakoda on a rainy day to women working after marriage, that'll help you get to know each other without physically meeting. We don’t have to go through this isolation period completely alone. Staying connected is so important right now, whether that’s through OkCupid, video chatting with friends, or phone calls with family,” adds Charytan.