Much has been written about COVID’s impact on individuals’ physical and mental health, but there is more work to be done to understand how it has changed human relationships and the social landscape overall.
According to a year-end report by Tinder, 2020 brought an unprecedented number of users to dating apps. On March 29, 2020, just after most of the world began lockdown, Tinder broke its record for the most activity in a single day, with more than 3 billion swipes. Between March and May 2020, OKCupid saw a 700% increase in dates, and on Bumble, video calls increased by 70%.
Now that restrictions have eased in many places and people are vaccinated in increasing numbers, will usage begin to plummet? So far, experts think this is unlikely. Users’ eyes have been opened to the convenience of online dating, and they have seen the value of being able to vet a person’s interests and initiate a virtual conversation before making the effort to meet up in person.
Not only did Internet dating apps and sites become more popular, but they also had to adapt to the new ways users wanted to connect. In order to meet the new requirements of these difficult times, dating platforms rely on advanced communication technologies.
Of course, dating apps existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, too. However, they were a place to find dates rather than have one. Before the pandemic, people used dating apps mostly to connect and plan a date in the real world after a brief chat.
COVID-19 changed the dating pattern dramatically. No longer able to meet in person or willing to risk the disease, dating app users leveraged the in-app technology to get to know each other and see if they actually “clicked” with each other. Only after a series of video dates, they would decide on a personal meeting.
For example, Tinder observed that half of its Gen Z members used video chat to connect with their matches before risking an actual real-world date. Similarly, Bumble reported a 21% rise in video chatting after the pandemic began.
Initially, digital dating was a response to social distancing and other restrictions brought about by the pandemic. However, it seems that even with the pandemic gradually subsiding and life returning to normal, people are not yet ready to abandon digital dating in favor of real-world activities. In fact, “40% of Gen Z Tinder members say they will continue to go on digital dates, even as date spots re-open.”
Virtual dates, particularly, video chatting with your match, have proven to be a safe and easy way to get to know the person before meeting them. A video chat helps to see what your match truly looks like (we all know about fake photos on dating apps), how comfortable they are to talk to, if there is any immediate “chemistry” between you. Video chats are a great place for that small talk when people meet for the first time.
In addition, video chats help resolve or avoid many common first-date issues. Who is paying for the meal? How to break the date if your match is unpleasant to be with or downright scary? How to end the date without revealing your home address if you don’t want to? What to do if your match wants more than you are prepared to give on the first date?
In a video chat, your safety, privacy, and even anonymity can be guaranteed. Dating apps do not disclose personal and contact details to matches, which makes it easy to break an uncomfortable relationship.
All these factors contribute to the lingering popularity of online dating which is very likely to remain even after the pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted. Users who discovered the easiness, convenience, and safety of virtual dating will continue to choose it over real-world first dates.
What is also interesting to note is that having your first date over video leads to a more activity-focused second date. If two people meet in a video chat, this is where they have those first conversations that are often awkward but also help to determine if there’s going to be a second date. In such cases, if the second date does happen, the people tend to build it around a common activity – a concert, a sports pastime, such as ice- or roller-skating, a visit to an exhibition. In this respect, the second date, which is, in fact, the first real one, happens on common ground.
In 2021, the global number of dating app users reached 323 million following a steady rise from year to year. This figure shows that the popularity of digital dating is going to increase and continue even in the post-COVID era. The key thing is to make dating apps effective and secure for users.
From our analysis of digital dating trends, it is clear that video dating is swiftly becoming one of the must-have features for a dating app. Even when the pandemic-related risks are gone, people might still prefer to get to know each other virtually before meeting in person.
Therefore, dating app developers should consider implementing video chatting functionality in their products to attract users and ensure competitive advantages. There are two ways to do it – develop your own video feature from scratch or use a ready-made third-party solution.
If you opt for own development, you are going to get a unique video feature perfectly tailored to the specific requirements of your product. However, with communication solutions, there are many things that you need to take into account, such as GDPR compliance and the implementation of reliable security mechanisms. Otherwise, you may risk facing accusations of not taking enough care to protect users’ data. For example, even such digital dating heavyweights as Tinder and OkCupid found themselves on the receiving end of criticism when a report suggested they shared users’ data with advertising companies.
If, however, you choose to integrate a third-party solution, you can be sure that the feature you are implementing has been thoroughly tried and tested for security and compliance. For example, QuickBlox’s video and voice chat was designed and developed with security and compliance in mind. Thus, it can be trusted to provide all the necessary protection measures, such as the use of WebRTC technology, data encryption, and anti-malware software.
Moreover, QuikBlox’s solutions can be easily implemented by using the available SDKs and APIs that contain all the functionality you might need to add voice and video calls to your dating app. The SDKs and APIs are developed to support all the major platforms, both web and mobile, thus allowing you to create multi-platform apps. Using our APIs and SDKs will reduce the time-to-market significantly, while not compromising the app performance and quality.
We will be happy to provide more information or do a demo for you. Contact us if you are interested in adding a ready-to-use video solution to your dating app.