Tinder is the night out for app romantics
Albert Einstein feared "the day technology will surpass our human interaction".
But he never found romance on Tinder, the new mobile dating app that's quickly becoming New Zealand's favourite place to find a hook-up.
The app is run through the user's Facebook profile, transposing five pictures, your age, mutual friends, and the "about" section. But, importantly, it doesn't reveal your Tinder exploits on Facebook itself.
The app then displays users of the desirable gender (or genders) from within the chosen geographic radius using GPS.
Based on their photos and the brief biography, you decide whether you see a future, or an evening, with that person, tapping a green heart if you do or red X if you don't.
With a bit of online luck, if two users "like" each other, Tinder declares a "match" and a private forum is opened where the pair can flirt, exchange info, arrange a date and unabashedly petition for casual sex.
Tinder avoids awkward rejections and you are notified only that someone likes you when you are matched.
And its blurred space between social media and internet dating site is attracting those outside the traditionally older crowd who turn to the internet for romance.
"Our most prominent demographic is 18-24," said Tinder chief executive Sean Rad.
"There are a lot of apps that help you connect with people you know. But meeting new people is challenging."
Rachel Clarke*, 28, has found Tinder helpful for meeting new people since moving from the South Island to Melbourne.
"This is my first foray into internet dating (if we're calling it that). I suppose throwing a few photos up from Facebook and not going through the rigmarole of creating an internet dating profile speaks more to gen Y," she said.
John Kelly, 29, from Christchurch, has been on five Tinder dates. "I found it put you in a comfort zone where it was easy to ask the girl out and see how it goes, I wouldn't ask a girl out in a bar."
The app was released late last year and its fun, efficient and flirtatious approach has proved a hit.
Worldwide, Tinder has had more than 115 million matches, and 3 billion profile interactions.
The app is heating up in New Zealand. Although the company won't reveal specific download stats, this country is one the top 10 fastest-growing markets.
Tinder unashamedly focuses on appearance and selections are made quickly based on looks.
"Tinder represents society," Rad says.
"It represents the way that our minds work. You walk into a room and the first thing you notice is somebody's appearance and body language. That initial reaction says a lot."
Users acknowledge that Tinder's approach appears superficial but say that this reflects human nature.
Richard Moore, 27, an Aucklander who has had two successful dates with Tinder matches, said: "The first and pretty much only thing you know about the other person is what they look like. At the end of the day it's about as superficial as the bar scene . . . same rules apply."
And just like in a bar, good looks don't mean good conversation or sharp wit.
"Sometimes the opening line is just horrific and I haven't bothered replying," said Anna Ryan, a 21-year-old student from Auckland, who's had one Tinder date.
She was flattered when she matched with a man and his first line was: "What's a girl like you doing on an app like this?"
It proved less effective when she discovered he had used the same line on her friends.
* Names have been changed to protect the romantic outcomes of the interviewees.
Sunday Star Times