Bumble to launch a speed dating feature that lets users chat before matching or seeing pictures

By Alma Fabiani

Published Oct 4, 2022 at 03:26 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

From opening up a cafe and wine bar to encourage in-person meetups following the countless COVID-19 lockdowns that kept us indoors and online during the last two years to playing a crucial part in the fight towards criminalising cyberflashing in the UK, it’s no surprise why Bumble is often seen as a pioneer in the dating app market. After all, its very own concept—having women make the first move—shook the industry when Bumble first launched in 2014.

It seems like 2022 is no different, as the dating app has now announced that it is looking to introduce its users to a new way of connecting with each other—speed dating is back in, peeps. As first reported by TechCrunch, the company has been “quietly testing a speed-dating feature in its UK market, which allows users to join the app on a designated night and time to engage in brief chats with other members before they’ve seen their photo or matched.”

If the date goes well, then both parties can choose to match in order to keep the conversation going. If not, easy-peasy, they can just pretend like it never happened.

Though Bumble wouldn’t confirm the details of the new service when TechCrunch reached out, it did note that it had a product announcement pending. “At Bumble, we are always testing new and different ways for our community to connect,” a spokesperson further told Gizmodo. “Like all tests, we will collect feedback before deciding if we roll it out more widely.”

The potential introduction of this speed dating feature follows a number of attempts by rival dating platforms to incorporate similar options into their own offerings—given how more and more users have started showing signs of fatigue with the standard swiping alternative.

So far, some of these efforts have fared better than others. Dating app Tinder’s parent Match Group, for example, leveraged technology from its acquisition of Hyperconnect to integrate audio and video technologies into its various brands including Meetic, Match and Japan-based Pairs, such as blind date-style features.

Tinder itself also launched a blind date feature involving in-app chats as well as a ‘Fast Chat’ feature for connecting before matching as part of its larger social platform, Tinder Explore. Even Facebook wanted a piece of the action when it tested a video speed dating service called Sparked back in 2021. The side project was eventually shut down in 2022 after it failed to gain traction.

According to data from product intelligence firm Watchful, Bumble’s new feature has been trialled on Thursdays at 7pm in the UK. Marketed as a game that allows users to ‘finally’ leave the app for good, it allegedly starts when Bumble users see a ‘Live’ icon appear in the app.

First, the players have to accept a set of dating rules—like “keep it respectful” and “don’t ask about their looks”—before they’re able to enter. They can then chat with other participants for three minutes before they’re shown each other’s photos. After the time is up, the players can decide to match and continue to a private chat.

Bumble has also recently been spotted testing a number of other social networking-inspired features within a platform called Hive, as part of the revamp of its BFF friend-finding platform, including video calls, polls and chats—a move that could be interpreted as yet another sign that younger users (namely, gen Z) are turning to social media apps to both socialise and meet potential partners, therefore cutting into traditional dating apps’ core audience.

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