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Dating app Hinge goes premium (but select members can still get it for free)

The Dating Apocalypse
Dating app Hinge is scaling back a significant part of its major overhaul less than a month after it was implemented.

The platform is selectively offering some of its users lifetime access to its basic service, despite migrating to a subscription-based model in October — which sees users charged $8 per month following a free trial.

The move was part of the app’s grand strategy to rebrand itself as a “relationship service” rather than a dating one. It also ditched the popular swiping model pioneered by Tinder, and expanded user profiles with a timeline of events, images, and actions. Instead of confining members to a number of best-case images, its aim was to give users a better idea of who people really are.

Some users are receiving a notification alerting them of the free tier of membership when they open the app, reports Business Insider. It’s an element that once again reinforces its similarities with other freemium dating apps, such as Tinder and Bumble — exactly the types of platforms Hinge was trying to distance itself from with its reboot.

“As an Early Member, you’ve helped create a community of people who want more … to thank you, we’d like to give you Hinge free, forever,” reads the note. We reached out to Hinge for a comment but did not immediately receive a response.

The app’s developers initially justified the $8 monthly cost by claiming it was a price people would be willing to pay. Unlike other “dating” apps, or services — such as eHarmony and — Hinge says it can better cater to younger generations by combining the relationship focus of the latter sites with the convenience of an application. “As long as there are single people in the world, they’ll come to Hinge,” founder and CEO Justin McLeod said in October.

Hinge isn’t new to the matchmaking scene. It’s offered a Tinder-like experience for over a year now, though it tried to set users up through friends, rather than just general proximity. However, staff there claim this model just isn’t very effective and leaves people swamped by choice, giving them little interest to pursue meaningful relationships.

In a fashion a little more Facebook-like, Hinge’s users can only get in touch with one another by commenting on images or facts about the person, making conversations a little more organic. Users don’t necessarily need to engage in these if they don’t like the look or sound of the other person, but if they do, they can hit “connect,” and begin their journey down the relationship rabbit hole.

Fortune previously reported that Hinge was still planning to utilize some measure of its friends-of-friends mechanic, but it would be of less import in making matches.

Updated on 11-04-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added news of Hinge’s undisclosed free tier of membership.

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