Tinder confirmed it's exploring a new feature called Swipe Party which offers a way to make sorting through possible matches a more social experience. According to details spotted in the Tinder mobile app's code, Swipe Party requires access to the phone's camera and microphone so your friends can "see and hear you while vetting prospects."
This "Tinder with Friends"-style experience builds on what's already a popular offline activity. Today, friends often swipe through the app together making joint decisions on which profiles the Tinder account holder should try to match with. In the case of Swipe Party, however, it seems as if Tinder is looking to make this a virtual experience where a user could invite a "guest" to join their swiping session in order to give their feedback remotely.
This follows on the broader trend of co-browsing apps, as with Apple's SharePlay, or co-watching videos with friends as enabled by Hulu, Prime Video and Disney+'s co-viewing features, for example. The trend was already growing in popularity but was then further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and its social distancing requirements.
TechCrunch subsequently confirmed there are also references to Swipe Party in the Tinder app for iOS, according to an analysis by tech analyst Steve Moser (see images below).
Image Credits: Tinder iOS app code by Steve Moser
According to the code snippets, Swipe Party would see Tinder users inviting friends to join a swiping session. These friends would create guest accounts on Tinder by offering their phone number, validating it with a code, then entering their name and date of birth before joining the "party."
Of course, tech companies regularly build, test and experiment with new features -- many of which are never released to the wider public, and that may be the case here. But what makes the existence of Swipe Party more interesting is how it ties into Tinder parent company Match's larger plans to bring more audio and video experiences to its line of dating apps.
The company last August said it planned to introduce audio and video chat features, including group live video, to its dating app portfolio over the next 12 to 24 months. That means we would see some of these additions begin to show up later this year. Match said these new features would be powered by innovations from Hyperconnect, the Korean social networking company and app maker that became Match's biggest acquisition to date at $1.73 billion. It's not clear that Swipe Party is related to that specific roadmap, which also includes plans for some kind of dating "metaverse" with a virtual goods-based economy.
But the feature does fit in with Tinder's recent efforts to become a more interactive and social app instead of just a place to swipe profiles.
Last year, Tinder took its first major steps on that front with the launch of a new section in its app called "Explore," where it now highlights the app's interactive elements. This includes the interactive video series Swipe Night, interest-based matching, lightweight chat and more.
Tinder confirmed Swipe Party's development, but declined to share further details about the project.
"We are always exploring features to help our members connect in new, fun ways," a company spokesperson told TechCrunch, when asked about Swipe Party and its functionality.
Elsewhere in Match Group's portfolio, the company has also experimented with having friends play matchmaker. Its dating app Ship lets friends engage in group chats about dating prospects, but this was text-based chat not video or audio.
This would also not be the first time Tinder experimented with some sort of social video in its app, either.
The company had previously tested, then discarded, a feature called "Tinder Mixer," which offered users a way to play games and video chat with others nearby. Tinder in more recent years also embraced video in other ways, including video profiles and one-to-one video calls. But to date, Tinder's growth has been limited by its nature as a dating app -- that means (generally speaking) only some subset of single people will install the app and create profiles. Swipe Party could allow those who aren't Tinder users to try the app, as well. And they wouldn't have to be single to do so.