21st century dating is an increasingly digital affair, as traditional methods of meeting a mate (work, mutual friends, a bar) disappear to be replaced by the lucrative business of online dating. Over the last few years this trend has evolved even further, with traditional services such as Match.com, often being superseded by new smartphone apps that provide a far quicker and easier (and, some might say, superficial) way of getting a match. Bumble is the latest app to emerge on the scene.
Make a match
Bumble was founded by three ex Tinder employees - Whitney Wolfe, Chris Gulczynski, and Sarah Mick - with the aim of being a dating app where the girl is in control because guys can't initiate conversations. The aim of Bumble is to get rid of the spam and unpleasant messages that many women receive when they sign up to that app.
To sign up with Bumble, you must have a Facebook account as it uses your pictures and university/work information from the social network to form the basis of your profile, as well as showing mutual friends. You can add some additional details about your likes, dislikes etc, as well as choose different photos. When I signed up it took old work information from a former job and I wasn't able to edit this to provide my current situation.
Once your profile is ready and you've provided your location it is time ready to start looking at your matches. You can edit the age range you're looking for as well as whether you are looking for a man, woman, or everyone.
Then it's time to start swiping. The app presents you with a series of profiles from people in your area within the specified age range and you swipe to decide whether you like someone. If you make a match (both of you swipe right) and you're a girl then you have 24 hours to make contact before this connection expires and the person disappears from your list. Then you can start a chat with your match. All the connections you make plus a history of the messages you sent are saved in the app.
The only power a guy has in this equation is the ability to extend the time before a connection disappears to 48 hours rather than 24.
Swipe your way to love
If you've used Tinder then Bumble will seem very familiar; even if you haven't used a swiping dating app before it will only take seconds to pick up the idea. As the app is new (it went live in the App Store at the start of December), there are limited matches in certain locations. This will likely change if Bumble takes off.
While the user experience is smooth and overall the app works well, there are a few holes. If you make a mistake and swipe dislike when you mean to like then there is no way to change that without deleting and recreating your account. There's also no way to sign up if you don't have a Facebook account; you can't edit the university/work details it takes from Facebook; the option to change your profile picture doesn't always work.
It's all just a game
The flaw with Bumble is that just because a girl has sent a message first doesn't mean she won't receive an unwanted reply in return. After all, with Tinder a girl must have already swiped right to make a match before a guy can send her a message. It's the content of the message that is unwanted rather than the message itself and that, for me, is where the major distinction lies.
The fact that you can provide more information on your profile may lead to deeper connections based on more than just looks, but for many it's likely still to be a numbers game based on physical appearance or a fun game to play with your friends. Although maybe that's just what Bumble is designed to be.
But then all this depends on how many people sign up and whether there is enough originality to tempt people away from other dating apps. At the moment, I'm just not convinced that Bumble can do it.