Tinder is redesigning its app to put a larger emphasis on its social, interactive features with the launch of “Explore,” a new section that will feature events, like the return of the popular “Swipe Night” series, as well as ways to discover matches by interests and dive into quick chats before a match is made. Combined, the changes help to push Tinder further away from its roots as a quick match-based dating app into something that’s more akin to a social network aimed at helping users meet new people.
This shift could resonate better with a younger generation that may feel like traditional online dating has lost its novelty. Today, these users are turning to apps marketing themselves as places to meet new friends, while newcomers to the dating app industry are experimenting with other means of connecting users — such as with short, TikTok-like videos, as in Snack, or even audio, as in SwoonMe. For Tinder, these market shifts may have represented an existential threat to its own business. But instead, the company has doubled down on interactivity as being core to the Tinder experience, as means of maintaining its dominant position.
At launch, Tinder Explore will include a handful of existing features alongside a new way to meet people. The latter allows users to connect with others based on interests — like Foodies, Gamers, Music Lovers, Social Causes, Entrepreneurs, and more. Over time, more interests will be added which will allow Tinder members to find someone based on what they’re like, rather than just what they look like.
Explore will also be home to Tinder’s “Swipe Night,” the interactive series that launched in 2019 as an in-app “choose your own adventure” story which helped to boost Tinder engagement as it gave users a reason to relaunch the app at a specific time. Tinder hailed “Swipe Night” as a success, saying the feature attracted over 20 million users during its first run and led to a 26% increase in matches. In November, the series will return — this time, with new characters and a new “whodunit”-style storyline. It will now also leverage the “Fast Chat” feature that powers Tinder’s “Hot Takes” experience, which allows unmatched users to chat.
“Hot Takes” will also appear in Tinder Explore, which the company describes as a more low-stakes way to match with other users. As a timer counts down, users who are chatting can choose if they want to match. If the timer expires, they meet someone new — similar to an online version of speed dating. Since launching this summer, millions of Tinder users have tried “Hot Takes,” which is only available from 6 pm to midnight local time.
However, the bigger story about Tinder Explore isn’t just what sort of features it will host now, but what the company has in store for the future. Earlier this year, Tinder parent Match bought the Korean social networking company Hyperconnect for $1.73 billion — its largest acquisition to date. And it’s preparing to use Hyperconnect’s IP to make the online dating experience even more interactive than it is today, having announced plans to add audio and video chat, including group live video, to several of its top dating app properties, Tinder included.
Tinder Explore provides a platform where features like this could later be added — something Tinder hints towards, noting that the section is designed to offer users access to “a growing list” of social experiences with “many more to follow.”
“A new generation of daters is asking for more from us in the post-Covid world: more ways to have fun and interact with others virtually and more control over who they meet on Tinder,” said Tinder CEO Jim Lanzone, in a company announcement. “Today’s launch of Explore is a major step in creating a deeper, multi-dimensional, interactive experience for our members that expands the possibilities of Tinder as a platform,” he added.
Tinder Explore began rolling out to major English-speaking markets on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and will be available globally by mid-October.