Augmented reality is changing the way we buy furniture at IKEA, but can it change the way we find love?
That’s what one new dating app is betting on. FlirtAR, pronounced “flirter,” launches Monday for iOS. (It’ll be available for Android at the end of this month.) It uses AR to help you find potential matches who are nearby.
It works in real time, using geolocation to find people close by who meet your designated criteria. As you move your phone around, little bubbles with people’s pictures pop up based on where you’re looking.
The geotargeting isn’t ultra precise, so they sort of hover over the general area where someone is. It’s not like right on top of a person’s face, which might be a bit much. But it’s enough to make your search for love seem a little more immediate, and it’s an interesting twist on the more static interfaces the big apps like Bumble and Tinder give you.
So what happens once you’re interested in someone who pops up? You click on their bubble, and their profile appears. You can then ping the person letting them know you like them. They then have to like you back before anything else happens in the app, like having the option to chat — though clearly you can also just decide to meet IRL right then and there.
There’s also a feature that lets you move yourself on the map to a different location and view potential matches there — though people can see that you’re not actually there and are just scoping out the scene.
There’s also a facial recognition feature. If you see someone you’re interested in, you can scan them and the app will tell you whether they’re an active user. Eek, but useful in theory? Sort of — though there’s always the risk you’ll get caught scanning and come off like a creep.
The app lets you opt out of being matched at any time — like if you want to walk around the grocery store in your sweats unseen. (You can turn off the facial recognition feature, too.) But as with anything that gives away your location, things can get kind of weird privacy-wise.
Of course this is far from the only app that offers matches based on finding you people who you’ve crossed paths with — Happn and many others operate on the same premise. So the real question here is will AR really make the experience of meeting people that much more dynamic?
When you’re using it at home or anywhere where there aren’t tons of matches nearby, the AR is more awkward than a more traditional interface. It makes more sense in a busy open space or at an event where many people are interested in mingling in real time — like a concert or a beach.
As with all these apps, though, it all comes down to how many other people you might be interested in are using it. And that remains to be seen.
They’re launching initially in Los Angeles, where Jacqueline Bowen, the company’s director of marketing, told Mashable they “have an established subscriber base and a lot of beta test users.” And the plan is to go from there.
They’re also planning to introduce a premium tier of services in the coming months. So if you want to try out all the features for free, you might want to get a move on.
It’s still probably not as efficient as, you know, just walking up and talking to someone you think is attractive. But if you really want to get technology involved, at least the AR format will add a little spice to your dating app experience.