With Valentine's Day around the corner, dating site OkCupid is releasing a new app designed to get people to actually go out on dates. What a concept.
The “CrazyBlindDate” app launches on the heels of a Sunday New York Times feature on the death of traditional dating at the hands of bloodless digital substitutes: endless text messaging, Facebook posts, and instant messaging, as well as just “hanging out.”
To combat the end of courtship as we know it, the new app aims to help people quickly and easily set up one-on-one blind dates, as the name implies. OkCupid members can log in with their existing account while new users can create a profile by entering their first name, birth date, gender and the gender they are seeking.
Through the app, they indicate when they’re free to go out that week, and choose a venue from a list of “safe, well-lit spaces.” The app’s algorithm then matches a user up with another person in their local area who is also available during the selected time slot.
Once the app finds someone’s date for the evening, it sends a confirmation to both parties and the date is initiated. An hour before your date, it opens up a chat window to let participants coordinate last-minute logistics.
Following the date, the app asks for feedback and lets users vouch for the quality of their date by assigning “Kudos” to one another. The more Kudos a user collects, the higher priority they will have in being assigned to future dates. The ratings are especially geared toward helping women set up successful dates.
The new app, designed and developed by digital agency Huge, is actually the latest incarnation of CrazyBlindDate.com, a site based launched in 2007 by OkCupid co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan. That site was phased out in 2010.
“That predated the explosion in mobile, and I think the company learned a lot from the site -- and that's what's going to help the app be successful,” said Gene Liebel, a partner and chief strategy officer at Huge. “The location-based piece is so big now, and that's not something you could do in 2007, obviously.”
To help promote the app launch, OkCupid is declaring Tuesday “Love is Blind” Day, removing the profile pictures of all 10 million members on the site for the day to encourage people to make their dating decisions based on criteria other than looks. (Profile images in the CrazyBlindDate app are scrambled to downplay the importance of physical appearance.)
People will also be able to share blind date stories via Twitter using the hashtag #CrazyBlindDate.
OkCupid already offers its own app for the iPhone and Android phones, but even so, the new app provides a simplified, more direct option for people to connect in person. “The idea here is that the algorithms here are good, but not perfect, 'Let's just meet',” explained Liebel. Think of it more like speed dating than finding Mr. or Mrs. Right through an extended online vetting process.
IAC-owned Match.com acquired OkCupid last year for $50 million in cash in a bid to help it reach a younger demographic, with Yagan staying on as its head. Whether the CrazyBlindDate app can get more 20-somethings to stop texting and start dating remains to be seen. One thing that could prove to be a barrier is a paid component.
While it wasn't detailed at press time, Yagan stated in the announcement: “Never before has a dating app allowed singles to pay on a per-date basis, and to vary that payment based on the quality of the date itself.” So a bad date is a cheap date.