When Tinder was created a decade ago, it was a creative take on the Hot or Not rating website that Gen Xers and elder Millennials may remember. But now Gen Z - known for its authenticity in everything from clothes to relationships - has entered the dating scene. Tinder is tailoring its approach, rolling out a new feature to encourage them to get to know each other before making decisions based on appearance.
The new Blind Date feature pairs users and has them engage in conversation before seeing each others' profiles. If the users decide to match after exchanging words, only then will they be able to see photos.
Kyle Miller, vice president of Product Innovation at Tinder, said the company wanted to create the "anticipation and excitement" of going on a blind date for a new generation - one that grew up with online dating.
"The new Blind Date experience brings a surprisingly fun, banter-based way to interact and create connections that's all new to Tinder," Kyle Miller, vice president of Product Innovation at Tinder, said in a statement.
The notion has been popularized in reality TV shows such as "Love Is Blind" and "Sexy Beasts," as well as dating apps, like S'More, that are based on sightless dating.
Tinder announced Thursday that the addition to the app's Fast Chat features, Blind Date, offers Gen Z daters a more authentic online experience while tapping into their '90s nostalgia - long before they were on the market. Users will be matched based on commonalties and given prompts to promote conversation such as "It's OK to wear a shirt ____ times without washing it" and "I put ketchup on____," according to the statement.
Based on their responses, if both users choose to "like" each other's profiles, they will be matched, gaining access to each other's profiles - and photos.
The feature is available in the United States, the company said.
Online dating experts said that promoting dating through communication is a nice idea, particularly for an app that was initially based on physical appearance. But whether the new feature will have the intended result, the experts said it could go either way.
Maria Avgitidis, CEO of Agape Match, a matchmaking service based in New York, said this form of dating - and, more specifically, Tinder's new Blind Date feature - does have the potential to encourage people to broaden their views on dating by meeting different people, many of whom are outside their usual "type."
"This can be very positive if people are open to dating someone who might not necessarily be in their core attraction bubble," she said. However, she added, it could also backfire, hurting people who are unmatched after their photos are seen.
And, in the end, the conversations, which are meant be lower pressure to help people interact, are still taking place via text - at best offering a curated version of the other person, said Jennifer Gunsaullus, a sociologist.
"My thought is, how much are you really learning about this person? How authentic is it really?" she said.
But experts agree it could provide an interesting alternative to the way many people meet on dating apps.
"Every person is an opportunity, so just try it out," Avgitidis said about Tinder's Blind Date feature. Still, she added, "You have to think of online dating as a tool to get offline. I think that's what Tinder is trying to do."