Looking for love? Hinge thinks you’ll find it in friends of Facebook friends

Hinge app

There is no shortage of dating sites out there at this point. While sites like Plenty of Fish or OKCupid insist on being able to navigate your bait through an ocean of options and hook it in on a promised match, other options have started to get more specific, banking on being able to better find you a catch in a stream. All of these services require you provide information about yourself and uses it to link you to someone with a similar set of data points. This is where things can fall flat because, well, people lie. Hinge believes it can find the true you not by asking you questions but by who you associate with – namely, your Facebook friends. 

Why dip in to the social network site rather than take the traditional (as traditional as online dating can be, that is) means of matching?

Hinge believes it can find the true you not by asking you questions but by browsing your Facebook friends.

“The number one way people still meet today, despite the growth of online dating, is through friends. Your friends say a lot about you – your history, your interests, your socioeconomic status,” Hinge CEO Justin McLeod told us. You have a certain established rapport and trust with your friends. Hinge uses the good will you’ve built with your friends to help match you with those in your extended networks – friends of friends that you will have some comfort with because of mutual associations.

Though it would seem this approach would limit your possibilities, it’s more about quality than quantity for Hinge.

“While we only show our users 10 matches on average per day, our users indicate they’re interested in our suggestions over 40 percent of the time,” explained McLeod. “That’s a much higher percentage than what traditional dating sites or hookup apps report.” The average Hinge user, he claims, will have about 5,000 singles in their extended network and while 5,000 doesn’t sound like much when some sites claim millions of users to tout the possibilities, it’s also unlikely you need to go on a million dates to make a connection unless you have body odor issues or have a peg leg. Even then … peg legs can get you sympathy points, depending on how you acquire them.

Once you’ve linked your Facebook profile to your Hinge account, you offer up a limited bit of information before getting into the matchmaking process. You’ll provide your zip code and intentions – if you’re using the app to meet a match or just looking to see how it works – to start. Fine tuning occurs a bit later, with options for ideal age range and location. You can add some pre-made labels to apply to yourself as well to help fine tune the matching process, adding personality traits, favorite date spots, etc. These help narrow down the field for Hinge to play for you, but it does most of this work without you knowing. 

Hinge only gives users 5 matches to look at per day. You can’t browse through people at will, sending off the same boiler plate message with a smiley face emoticon at the end and hope one of them replies. You’re shown just five people, and their profile and photos are available for you to view at will. (This is something that needs fixing, though. We’d like to see the ability to mark photos or information as private.) After checking them out, you either express your interest in them or ‘pass’ on them. The friend of a friend will only learn of your interest if they express interest as well.

The reason for the limited exposure to matches is two fold: First, it helps Hinge determine what you’re after: “We look through your extended friend network and then find people who are similar to the types you’ve liked in the past, but who are also likely to be interested in you as well,” said McLeod. “It sounds simple enough, but it’s quite complicated when you’re learning preferences such as occupation, education history, ethnicity and height – all at once.”

For comparison’s sake, if you went on Netflix and just started liking everything, it would probably come up with some weird suggestions. When it learns you over time, it offers those insanely specific categories that always seem to creepily know what you like. Hinge wants similar success when finding you dates.

The second reason for the five person per day limit is because too much of a good thing can be too much to handle. “Because we’re able to provide such high quality results, even 5-10 per day can seem overwhelming when you like 40 percent of the people we show you,” McLeod continued. “Every profile has personal details and interests pulled from Facebook, so our users typically spend more time reviewing suggestions than the superficial photo-only experience.”

In our use of the app, we can see why this is. There is a lot of information to look at with each potential partner, and about half of the ones we saw had some common ground that could make for an interesting date. Justin claims “We actually have people asking for fewer [matches]” because of the success rate of Hinge’s system. 

Since Hinge … hinges upon your friends to help you find a match, we were surprised to find that actual Facebook friends couldn’t make suggestions. The app relies solely on the information you provide and what it gathers based on who you like or pass on; there is no option at the moment for mutual friends to send suggestions through Hinge, which seemed like a no-brainer. Hinge trusts your friends enough to use their network of friends to hook you up with but not enough to let them play matchmaker. Even just a simple feature like marking a match as recommended by a friend would be welcome, and possibly telling. Maybe you could regularly deny the suggestions of one friend because you don’t trust their taste.

From our time with Hinge, it seems like a decent way of finding a partner. The trust established with your inner circle used to establish a pool of potential matches makes sense, especially when you see how good the app seems to know your tastes right off the bat. The process of finding a match on a dating site can be a grind, and Hinge manages to handle most of the pitfalls found on bigger, less focused services. Matches are curated for you; there’s no connection or communication unless both people are interested; and there’s a foundation in place based on who you know and what you like. It all makes for what could be a great service.

Hinge is available for free for iOS devices. It is currently available in New York and San Francisco and will launch in Chicago on February 6.

Cars

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.
Deals

15 unique pet gifts to stuff in your four-legged friend’s Christmas stocking

There are so many people to shop for during the holiday season, but you can't forget about your four-legged friend. If you don't already spoil your pet throughout the year, the holidays offer the perfect excuse to spoil them.
Gaming

Itching to fight in an online match with friends in 'SSB Ultimate'? Here's how

You can play online against your friends in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it isn't quite as simple as you might expect from a multiplayer game in 2018. Here's how you can do so using the Battle Arena system.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.
Mobile

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Gaming

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.
Mobile

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Deals

REI clearance sale extends discounts on Garmin, Fitbit, and GoPro devices

Beyond the things you typically expect to find at REI — like tents, skis, and jackets — there are tons of great deals on quality tech foryour outdoor adventures. From smartwatches to action cameras, here are the best tech deals.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

Sprint’s 5G rollout: Everything you need to know

Sprint is building its next-gen 5G network in preparation for a 2019 rollout, but it's taking a decidedly different approach than some of its competitors, including Verizon and AT&T. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Deals

Amazon slashes price of 2018 iPad to under $250 in time for Christmas

Whether you love Apple or prefer Android, this 2018 iPad 32GB tablet deal is rather tempting. If you're still on the hunt for gifts, then this deep discount from Amazon makes now an excellent time to pick one up.