Seeking an appy match with brand new mates
This Digital Life
Dating apps have helped shake the stigma of looking for love online, but no friend-finding apps have really taken off. Can Bumble BFF, a dating app off-shoot, change all that? Katie Wright investigates.
The stratospheric rise of Tinder, the first dating app to really go mainstream, has firmly put paid to any lingering doubts that looking for love online is only for the weird, or socially inept. Reportedly, 26 million matches are made daily, but what if you're looking for a platonic playmate rather than a date?
Well, Bumble, the dating platform founded by one of Tinder's co-founders, now has a feature that can help.
Bumble (www.bumble.com) is like Tinder et al in that you swipe right on profiles you like the look of, and left on ones you don't, but it differs because ladies have to send the first message, which cuts down the number of creepy, or sexually suggestive, opening lines women are routinely subject to while online dating.
New tool Bumble BFF (teen-speak for 'Best Friend Forever') works the same way, except the ladies-first caveat is removed, so either of you can initiate a chat.
It's something many online daters have long desired, and while it's not the first friend-finding start-up, it's better than many.
Squad and Cliq, which aren't available in the UK, are designed for groups of pals to connect, but aren't much good if you haven't already got a 'squad' in your current location.
Meetup is very popular, but is activity based (groups for people who like hiking, tech or vegan food number in the tens of thousands), whereas BFF generates one-on-one connections, which is appealing for the 20 and 30-somethings who already use dating apps.
Post-university, your social circle can change vastly as careers take friends away to other countries, while marriages and babies make others less available - and if you're one of those people whose job has brought you to a new town where you don't know anyone, it's even more attractive.
The reaction from users has been largely positive so far, with plenty of selfies from successful BFF dates already being shared on Twitter and lots of ladies getting very excited at the idea of expanding their social circle with just a few swipes of the finger.
So far, the conversation has been dominated by women, which begs the question, are men more reluctant to seek out friends online (or at least reluctant to talk about doing so)? Or is the skew just because Bumble is already female-focused?
Perhaps that stigma remains, but if Tinder's global takeover is anything to go by, it won't last long.