Matchmaking can now be added to the long list of tasks that an iPhone is capable of performing with the help of a free app called Tinder.
Released las October, Tinder is a dating app aimed at college-aged students.
“I was at home over Christmas break, and one of my friends told me about the app,” sophomore Kaitlin Schneider said. “It’s the funniest thing. It just matches you up with people in your area.”
Schneider didn’t end up downloading the app, but she did introduce her Butler friends to it.
One of her friends, sophomore Emily Taylor, decided to try it for fun.
“I just think it’s funny,” Taylor said. “I like meeting random people and doing random things.”
Tinder works by linking information with a user’s Facebook profile. A geo-location feature works together with interests and Facebook likes to make suggested lists of matches based on age, proximity and common interests.
Users can have up to four pictures and a profile picture on their Tinder. These pictures may pop up for others to look at.
Along with the pictures, users’ first name, age and Facebook biography show up. Because it is linked with users’ Facebook accounts, mutual friends are listed as well.
Users can either “like” or pass on other people based on these pictures and the listed information. If two people happen to mutually “like” each other, the app sends users a notification and will start up a chat between them.
The chat looks similar to that of texting on the iPhone, and users are not notified if they are liked or disliked by other users. Mutually liking is the only time anyone is notified.
Taylor made a few connections while using the app. Right before the men’s basketball game against Richmond on Jan. 16, she started a chat with a Richmond basketball player.
“I had just gotten the app, and I was going through looking at the random people,” Taylor said. “I came across a guy and I noticed he had on a Richmond basketball jersey. I chatted him and asked if he was on the team. He was telling me how they were on the bus on the way to come play at Hinkle.”
Taylor said she never planned on actually meeting him.
“He told me ‘Don’t worry, this isn’t my normal pregame ritual’,” Taylor said. “He said all of the basketball team had just downloaded it and was using it on the bus.”
The app also potentially led one of Scneider’s old freinds to one of her friends here at Butler.
“My friend went through and found someone I went to grade school with, and I showed up as a mutual friend,” Schneider said.
Sophomore Patrick Rowley came across people on the app that he hasn’t seen in almost six years.
“It’s almost used as another tool to reconnect with people that you haven’t seen in forever,” Rowley said.
Rowley said he sees Tinder more as another social networking app rather than a dating app.
“It’s a little strange at first because you’re just looking at people’s pictures on it,” Rowley said.
Rowley said he thought the idea sounded dumb at first. His friend downloaded it on his phone for him.
“I showed my friends, and I made them download it, and now they’re using it nonstop,” Rowley said. “I’ve had a few matches, but I’ve only chatted the people that I know.”
A virtual dating app might raise concerns at a time where “catfishing,” a term coined by the newly-famous MTV show and accompanying documentary, is making its way into headlining news. The term refers to people creating fake profiles and identities on social networks.
“I think there’s always a threat with online dating,” Rowley said. “If you’re going to use this as a tool for online dating, you need to make sure that if things advance to a different level that you actually meet the person in a relatively timely manner.”
With today’s technologically-savvy society and emphasis on online dating in the media, the concept of virtual dating continues to grow.
Schneider’s first interaction with her boyfriend occurred on the phone app Snapchat.
The two had a mutual friend who wanted to introduce them. He sent her a Snapchat with their mutual friend in the background. This was before Schneider knew him, and she said she was really confused at first.
“We did meet through a mutual friend, but our first interaction was on Snapchat,” Schneider said. “So it wasn’t completely random, but when people ask how we met, we say Snapchat.”
Whether it’s Snapchat or Tinder, virtual dating and icebreaking are becoming more common.
“That’s what it is these days,” Taylor said. “People meet randomly online. I think (online dating) can definitely work, but at the same time you have to be careful.”
Tinder is currently not available for any phones other than the iPhone. There are no dates set for the release of the app for other types of smartphones.