Love Online – Building a Dating App

With over 27% of committed relationships starting via the internet, online dating is no longer a taboo.
It is estimated that there are over 20 million matches on dating apps and websites worldwide, that comes down to approximately 40 million users.
India is the 9th largest market for online dating users.
With the fast-food economy and increased internet penetration, these numbers are going to increase multi-fold.

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It is predicted that by 2031, at least 50% of married couples would’ve met online. The average online dating service user spends $243 annually.

Computers are now going instinct and mobiles are definitely the future. 48% of users access dating services via their smartphones.
With Reliance Jio, smartphone and the 4G internet have become more readily available boosting up the number of smartphone users in the country to an estimated 300 million.

Online Dating in India

India has come a long way from the days when online dating was more or less limited to sending friend requests to people with good DPs. Then, of course, looking for soulmates moved from scrolling down newspaper classifieds to searching on matrimonial websites.
This being the online equivalent of meeting with ladke/ladki waale.

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Dating Apps like Tinder, Badoo, Truly Madly and Happn have changed much of this scenario specifically in India.
It looks like the young Indians are finally ready to search their own partners without having parents trawling through websites.
59% of the youngsters said they did not look down upon online dating compared to 27% in 2012.

India is the fastest growing market for Tinder and the largest in Asia.
One Million “super-likes” are sent every week, with women sending more than men.
India, therefore, has witnessed a huge change since it was difficult for women traditionally to even choose their partners.

The success of Tinder has encouraged several entrepreneurs to develop some amazing applications in the online dating segment.
These dating apps have attracted an ever-increasing userbase and also huge funding from investors.
Users have found dating apps helpful whether they are looking for marriage, serious relationships or – the crowd’s favorite – hookups.

Transforming the Dating World

What may have started as a hook-up movement has quickly and radically transformed the way the generation to come will meet their better halves.
A research predicts that one-third of marriages will be a direct result of online dating, there is, of course, no other and more subtle way of expressing interest as swiping right on a profile.

With a platform for all that one can imagine – posting the food you had, stalking the life of a friend, putting forth bitterness in under 140 characters and even one that puts dog ears on you, it is not surprising that people have separate applications to find “BAE”.

Humans have an innate desire to find companionship but we’re getting increasingly constrained by our growing responsibilities.
Trash cans are overflowing with coffee cups and lunch breaks are getting replaced with extra work sessions.
Being busy is normalcy and probably a pride but this leaves little scope for meeting offline.

Therefore “find BAE” apps have gone viral and collecting matches has become more of a sport.
It comes as no surprise then, that the online dating market is worth $2.2 billion with revenues of 381 million dollars in 2016.
It’s a hot market and Facebook all set to add a dating feature in-built in the app is prove enough to suggest the enormity of the market.

Nevertheless, here are some facts:

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    The Market Size – Revenues in the online dating segment amounted to $1383 mn in 2018.
    User Penetration is at 5.7% and is expected to increase to 6.3%
    There are 50 million users on Tinder alone with an average of 12 million matches every day. This means that there are at least a billion swipes.
    The average daily time spent on dating apps has increased to 90 minutes.
    India is the biggest market in Asia for online dating as most of its population is young.
    The number of swipes in India alone is 14 million going up from 7.5 million in 2015.
    Truly Madly has seen a 100% month-on-month growth rate.

With a demand as high as this, there is a lot of scope for entrepreneurs and startups to take a dive into this market and make it.

To App or Not to App

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The number one reason why dating apps have become so popular is that they are more efficient.
A site is not a click away and as accessible as an app.
An app, on the other hand, travels with the user. With features like geo-proximity and machine learning tailor-making choices to your preferences, websites may soon become redundant.

In fact, 4 out of 5 people prefer mobile dating to online sites.
61% of users are more likely to “hook-up” on a dating app rather than a website. Websites are not as easy to use and revenue generating as apps.
Variety of apps have come up entering niche markets like LGBT dating services, serious dating, and even dislike-based dating apps.
All these preferences are made possible through Big Data and Machine Learning which are much easier to collect and implement via smartphones.

Building an App is now no more a matter of choice.
So, if you wish to develop a dating app of your own, the key to keep your user addicted is the UX behind it.
The interface has to make meeting people online as simple as swiping left or swiping right.

The Top Matchmakers

Online dating is relatively new in India, with Tinder making its entry only as recently as 2015.
However, matrimonial sites like Matrimony.com and Shaadi.com have been prevalent for the past decade.
Let’s face it though, they are not very romance-inducing and several times you might be chatting with his/her mother.
Dating apps are a savior for us romantics. In this season of love, let’s take a look at the most popular dating apps in India:

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1.    TINDER

Tinder, since its launch in 2015 has been the market leader in online dating segment in India.
With over 14 million swipes every day, it still remains unbeatable. The app delivers the highest number of matches mostly among individuals looking for casual dating popularly called “hook-ups”.
Tinder has become popular in the hook-up segment but not without consequences. Several of the people surveyed reported joining Tinder just for fun and got bored quickly.
Boredom, however, is not a major concern especially with issues like women facing harassment when they refuse to go out on dates.
This may be a result of Tinder having 66% male users.

2.    MTJF | MORE THAN JUST FRIENDS

Expressing your feelings comes with a big risk of making things awkward if your friend doesn’t feel the same for you.
Not with MTJF. MTJF’s double opt-in mechanism ensures that a person knows about the other person liking him/her, only when they both Like each other.
While the other Dating apps are filled with millions of fake accounts, MTJF guarantees you that you will never come across a fake account.
MTJF verifies each user using Mobile number & OTP verification mechanism.
So that you can always be sure that you are talking to the person you intend to talk to.

3.    TRULY MADLY

With the harassment issues and fake profiles reported on Tinder, Truly Madly came as a welcome change.
The app assigned trust scores to its users based on their social media integration, job verification, User ID and mobile verification.
The App has a user base of 2.2 million users but women compromise only 30% of it.
Although Truly Madly wants genuine verified users and claims to keep all information confidential, the recent Facebook data leak is not very reassuring. Users, therefore are pretty reluctant to sharing such details online.

4.    WOO

WOO, like its international rival Tinder, requires login via Facebook and has LinkedIn integration to provide professional details.
WOO founder claims that it is not very “tinder-like” as it is more concerned with creating meaningful matches based on interests, likes-dislikes, and professions.
WOO offers several security enhancements most important being that the name of the person is displayed as initials only until there is a match.

5.    FLOH

FLOH is an invite-only dating app specifically targeting those looking for serious relationship transforming into marriage.
Ideally, the user base of FLOH falls between 26-36 age group.
The app needs you to shell out INR 7000 for three months of access, however, it guarantees meeting 50 singles at their events and an introduction to 10 matches one on one.
Unlike other dating apps, FLOH has 55% of female members. 

6.    HAPPN

A location-specific match-making app, Happn helps discover people that users have already crossed paths with.
The users just need to enable their location services and they can see people who have passed by them, giving them an option to message instantly.
It had a big-bang launch campaign with Hrithik Roshan advocating it.
However, Happn has not been strikingly successful in India keeping in mind the conservations of Indians and the possible hazard of creeps following around women just to match on HAPPN.

7.    BUMBLE

Bumble has a potentially large scope for Indian online dating market, which so far has not been very promising for women.
The creeps and stalkers have for long been troubling downside of major dating apps, Bumble solves this.
It has overcome this problem by allowing only women to initiate conversations.

Basic Features of Dating Apps

What makes a dating app addictive and appealing?

For Tinder, it is the unmatchable user experience. Making meeting people a swipe away with almost immediate matches is the USP of Tinder.
For TrulyMadly, it is verified users who are matched on basis of interests and preferences. If meeting people has to be made as simple as a right swipe, the interface has to be brilliant.
Here is a breakdown of the essentials of a good dating app:

#1 Social Media Integration: The world is online and it is important to integrate platforms like Facebook and Instagram to make log-ins and sign-ups easy and fast.
This also allows applications to collect data on likes and dislikes and access to the friend list of the user. Facebook is also a great way of authenticating a user to avoid fake profiles.
The possibility of a successful relationship venturing out of an app match is higher when two users have common matches and friends.
This makes first dates less awkward giving couples common grounds to talk about.

#2 Profiles: Everyone hates filling out long forms.
The hospital-like UI has become a thing of the past and with all the data already online, log in with Facebook makes initial data entry like Name, Gender, Email, etc automatic.
Several dating apps have gamified the entire process by adding cool graphics and making it fun.

#3 Geo-positioning: Matching with a person away from your place of residence is of little of no use.
Thus, for dating apps, it’s important to have location-based matches.
People living in the same vicinity or city are more likely to meet unless they are daring enough to start long distance relationships.
Apps like Tinder have premium paid services that allow users to change the location to a place they might be visiting in the near future or planning to shift to.

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#4 Matching: The who, what, where and why of match-making are run by some internally developed algorithms that match users based on their likes and dislikes.
Dating algorithms are not however that simple, for a match-making app to work it is essential to have algorithms that show the users that have liked you before others.
It is also common to note that users with a high number of swipes and matches will be displayed first.
This may not be very ethical but is essential for a business in order to increase the number of matches.

#5 Chat/Messaging: To facilitate conversations and keep the app more engaging, it is essential to have a chat box to enable matched users to strike up conversations.
This is also a safer way to communicate with women especially keeping in mind that an abusive user cannot get hold of the contact details.
Several users have not exchanged contact details after finding the matched user not compatible.
This further establishes the need for a messaging platform within the app.

#6 Push Notifications: It is important that users get notified when they have a match.
Push notifications need to be a part of the app for this very reason – to avoid missing out on a possible romance.

Monetizing on a Dating App

Monetization has been an issue from the very start of online dating.
This becomes even more prominent with the advent of dating apps and the huge war over providing the best quality.
The average user spends 90 minutes on a dating app every day, the potential for revenue is huge but so are the risks.
Here are some established ways of earning from a dating app:

Subscription Model: The model entails high-quality features at a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.
FLOH is based on a subscription model and matches users with specific users as per their choice.
It guarantees at least 10 one on one introductions.

Freemium: Several apps, the biggest being Tinder use a freemium revenue model. All basic services are free, premium services are available only to the customers who have paid for them.
Tinder, for instance, provides Tinder Plus service that enables unlimited matches and going back on the profile you’ve already swiped left on.

Gifts: Integrated gift sending facilities can also be a viable revenue model. Gifts like flowers, chocolates and greeting cards can be provided for a fee.

Advertising: Advertising can be a risk for dating apps are given the competition. Users tend to be averse to repeated ads showing up and will soon uninstall.
However, subtle ads that are un-interrupting can be used.

Third Party Services: Dating apps can involve services that allow booking taxis or booking a table with special offers and even movie date facilitators.

The Tech Behind Dating Apps

The mind-blowing features of dating apps like Tinder are a visible result of hours of hard work put into development and the many tools tested and applied.
An app’s performance is its best asset and thus best technologies and teams should be put to work behind it.
EB team has been a market leader in developing apps that have not only been award winners but have also raised thousands of dollars in funding from global giants.

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Technology Stack for an app like Tinder includes JavaScript, HTML5, and Python as programming languages and AWS platform for building and testing apps.
For Geo-positioning, most dating apps use the GPS inbuilt into smartphones. NoSQL and MongoDB are among the best platforms to use as scalable database environments.
GoDaddy SSL certifications ensure safety while keying in data and carrying out transactions. Tinder has its own custom map designed on the open source platform, Mapbox.

It is important to know which platform the app has to be developed, the most popular being IOS and Android since the behind the development on these platforms can be totally different.
Note, if the plan is that your dating app will be in use by thousands or probably millions of users, building an ascendable backend would take much more time.

The Future of Dating Apps

Video Dates: Hinge and ‘Coffee Meets Bagel’ have already initiated a video chat option to date virtually and avoid disappointments.
Since 44% of online daters have reported having been disappointed after meeting their match offline, virtual video dates have huge potential.
This has already started catching traction with some apps providing an option to video call in-built in the dating app.

Dating in AR: Have you played the viral game Pokemon Go? Dating in Augmented Reality is on similar lines, except in this you catch dates instead of a Pokemon. Sounds fun, right?
FlirtAR is the first of a kind to step into this market. It works kind of like Happn but here you see you familiar surrounding with a balloon marker.
Click on the balloon and it opens up a profile.
Now you could initiate the first move on the app if they like you back or in person if they are nearby.

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Dating in Virtual Reality: Virtual Reality has been a ground-breaking development in technology and the scope of its use is only coming to light in the near past.
A top mobile app development company came up with VRCHAT that builds a virtual space for interactions where the user could talk to anyone from around the globe visualizing them as if they were in the same room.
This makes romantic blind dates possible even if virtually.

The key selling points of VR Dating are the benefits it has to offer:

    It saves time to date in Virtual Reality

    VR Dating is more efficient

    Helps in developing meaningful connections

    Makes Romantic Dates possible without ever stepping out of your home

    Dates are made fun with gamification and also makes group dates possible

    Getting to know a possible partner or makes you wary of red flags

    Saves Money

While nothing replaces physical presence, the entire concept of technology integration into online dating and dating apps is definitely promising of a better future.
Young and hopeful couples hope VR technology will in the near future be successful in being able to transmit physical sensations like hugs and handholding, of course in a virtual space.

Build your Dating App

The shallowness of today’s dating experience has brought in an increasing sense of fatigue in online daters worldwide.
Though the market is promising, unicorns haven’t yet emerged from the online dating segment and there is no clear leader.
While this is a brief guide to building a dating app, your app need not include all of these features.
But whatever it is trying to achieve, it has to be done well so that it sets your app apart from the crowd.

Take a look at one of our recent projects, a dating app for friends MTJF, short for More Than Just Friends.

While it might be easy to write off mobile or online dating as trite and shallow, we’ve seen that there’s a lot more value added over and above the gamification aspect of an app or the instant gratification of more matches.
Dating apps have streamlined the initial and often cumbersome process of finding and meeting a compatible mate and are enabling tools that users find valuable, helpful and worth their time.

In the years to come, the market will need a reload to make online dating better. If you have an idea for a dating app, let’s build it better than Tinder.

We at EB are always in search of new and exciting projects to work on. Let’s Discuss.

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