Tinder launches group dates feature
Tinder is launching a new feature that allows groups of friends to discover each other and meet up.
Until now, the app had focused on offering singles a way to find dates.
Its chief told the BBC that the move marked the "first step that we're taking to make Tinder more social and a little broader when it comes to the types of connections we want to enable".
But one expert said Tinder Social might be seen as a group sex feature.
"Tinder is seen by many as being a hook-up site," commented Ben Wood from the CCS Insight consultancy.
"So, it needs to be careful. By expanding in this direction, rather than becoming a more interesting social meeting service, it could be perceived as an orgy app."
Tinder's chief executive Sean Rad, however, stressed that it was not about targeting this "niche" activity.
"It definitely allows you to make connections beyond just romantic ones," he explained.
"We look at Tinder as not just being a dating app, but capturing your entire social life. And your social life has so many different aspects to it.
"The beauty of putting this in the same app is that we have scale - we have tens of millions of users all over the world.
"So, overnight you can get the power of Tinder and connect with others going out tonight in a way that was never possible."
Tinder is owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC), a New York-based business that also owns the dating site Match.com, the search service Ask, and The Daily Beast news site.
It says that 85% of Tinder's users are between the ages of 18 to 34, and that the app has already led to more than 11 billion matches since it launched in 2012.
An earlier version of Tinder Social was tested earlier this year in Australia. It is now being rolled out in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.
To use it, users must first opt in to the feature within the existing app.
Then they need to:
- select who they are going out with - other members of the group must also be signed up to the service
- say where they are going
- say what they plan to do
Users can then see other groups. If a member from both sides "swipes right" to pick the other, members can then make the necessary arrangements via a group chat feature.
As a security measure, users may leave a group at any time. Furthermore, the next day, the group chat expires, and individual members need to like each other to stay in contact, assuming they have not already swapped other contact details.
For the moment, Tinder Social is completely free to use.
But Mr Rad suggested his firm could make money by adding premium features, which users would need to have a Tinder Plus account to access.
Tinder Plus currently costs £3.99 for under-28s and £14.99 for older users, allowing them to look at members they had initially rejected and see people who live in other parts of the world.
"Over the coming months we will clarify the relationship between the two products," Mr Rad said.
"But it's not different from Snapchat having multiple products within the same app. They sort of mingle, but you can really use them separately."