With all the investment flowing into the online dating space at the moment, it’s understandable that increasingly outlandish ideas will find backers and then appear in your mobile phone’s app store almost as quickly as they were dreamt up.
The latest incarnation, aimed at those who don’t find Tinder risqué enough, is Happn, an app that takes instant matching to the next level. What level that is exactly, is “to be determined”… just like the backgrounds of the dates that Happn will set you up with. That’s because Happn connects you to people in your precise physical location. In other words, those right inside your neighborhood coffee shop, at your regular supermarket, or next door to your apartment. In short, whomever you happen to “cross paths with.”
In one way, Happn, a French company that has launched its app in New York and as of this week, San Francisco, is the closest to the experience of “real life” encounters that often lead to first dates that any online dating platform has yet achieved. Happn’s backers have compared it to Craigslist’s missed connections page, whereby now their users will be able to more effectively act on such experiences.
Similar to the aims of Coupleizer, Happn tries to dispense with the elaborate pre-game show of multiple messages, elaborate profiles and weeks-long beanplating that can occur before an often disappointing and abruptly ended first date. In this way, Happn is firmly in the Tinder camp of “date now, ask questions later.”
As we mentioned in our post on Coupleizer, this approach does have some advantages. For example, many con artists rely on building up an emotional connection online which can play out over many months of messaging before they seek money or otherwise cause problems for their vulnerable victims. An online dating platform that cuts to the chase, will obviously not appeal to such elements.
However, we have also voiced our concerns about the immediacy of Tinder-style dating apps, their geo-location features and the pressure of matching with someone near you. Happn’s approach takes these concerns and elevates them to a new level. As Fast Company reports in its profile of the app, Happn zooms in on your location, within 275 yards.
This brings up any number of concerns, especially for those who have been stalked or harassed in the past. Additionally, at a time when many are concerned about their privacy and digital footprint, offering anyone who happens to use the same app as you the ability to potentially track your movements, raises alarm bells.
Keeping in mind how quickly flirting in a first message or date can go to malicious harassment afterwards, we think there are enough concerns here for users to seriously consider the use case for this app before crossing paths with anyone who “happns” by.