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5 Aug 2011

OKCupid's Mobile Dating

Mr. Right may still be M.I.A., but finding Mr. Right Now just got a whole lot easier. Last month, OKCupid began beta testing GPS-based features on its mobile app that will allow members to broadcast when they’re in the mood to mingle, to suggest activities, and to notify nearby matches that they’d like to meet up, ushering the world of smartphone-based instant dating into the mainstream.
The idea has already taken hold in the gay community thanks to Grindr, a mobile app that specifically targets gay and bisexual men and alerts users when other Grindrers are nearby. But Grindr’s emphasis on photos and proximity above any other indicators of compatibility has made it more of a hookup helper than a dating tool, and many, including Grindr founder Joel Simkhai, were skeptical that such a product would translate well with women. “Grindr is very photo-centric. Women obviously want to see someone that they might find attractive, but they need to know more than that,” he told the Guardian earlier this year. “For a straight woman, a guy who is 400 ft away from her? So what. It happens all the time. We have got to provide more.”
OKCupid gets around the meat-market factor (sort of) with its “broadcast” feature. If a potential dater is only interested in knockin’ da boots, he (or she) probably won’t respond to a “let’s go to the museum” broadcast. It also narrows the pool of potentially strange strangers by sending out notifications and broadcasts to best matches based on the lengthy personality survey each member fills out upon joining the site.
The thought of clicking to meet up with strangers right now still strikes us as a little creepy, but then again, so did checking-in on Facebook way back when, and we’ve all lived to tell the tale. What do you think? Is geo-dating the wave of the future? Or does the thought of sharing your location and availability with virtual strangers give you the heebie-jeebies?
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