Love Doctor's Blog

Do Voice Features Have a Chance Against Video Features on Dating Apps?

 

There’s a funny parallel with dating. Dating as an individual can be quite competitive, as you attempt to make yourself seem more interesting, cool or beautiful to attract matches. The dating app industry is also, it seems, pretty cutthroat, as sites battle for users’ attention with new features, collaborations and gimmicks. 

Some of these are harmless, some are hilarious and some are, probably accidentally, pretty useful. The latest app to land on something potentially good is happn. They’re including three audio features: users can record a clip of themselves talking and attach it to their profile; they can make voice calls and they can send voice notes. 

If users want to add an audio clip to their profile, they’re allowed to record for up to two minutes and happn provides prompts to help people find something to discuss. This might not seem like very long, but people can actually say quite a lot in two minutes. If you’re curious, try transcribing the radio or a podcast – or you can just take my word for it. I’m a chatty person but I don’t think that I could speak alone for two minutes without a script, unless I wanted to start rambling or the topic was very close to my heart. happn’s prompts might help some people, but a genuine suggestion is that you explain your favourite scene from Friends. In two minutes you could explain all the characters, the main events of the series and sum your top moments. More importantly – does anyone care? Ross saying the wrong name at the altar was probably shocking when it aired, but we’ve all (hopefully) moved past that. Incidentally, it took me 45 seconds to read this paragraph aloud. 

I am glad that happn allows voice calls, although I’m pretty surprised that it has taken this long. During lockdowns most people tried to avoid human contact and most dating apps scrambled to find Covid-safe alternatives, with many adding voice or video calls to help their users. So yeah, it’s good that they’re doing it – but it’s weird that it took so long. 

Finally, users are now able to send voice notes. Voice notes have been controversial for ages. Advocates swear that they’re convenient and useful if you’re in a rush or have your hands full. I can’t stand them. There’s something about listening to a recording of someone else speaking specifically to you that makes me feel extremely nervous, like I’ll listen and it’s someone yelling at me.  This might be a personal fear, but ask yourself this: do you ever listen to voicemails? My inbox must be full and I know that the only person who does this is my mum and I still won’t open them. If you want to say something, type it. 

One piece of research cited to explain happn’s new features is a survey done in the UK where 80% of people said that they like their partner to have an attractive voice. Which is fair. I live in the UK and I wouldn’t date anyone with a strong Brummie accent, because it sucks and there’s no way it could ever sound sexy. Am I a bitch about it? Sure. I’m also right. I know other people who have a strong preference for different voices and I can certainly see the appeal of meeting someone who sounds deep and silky smooth like Idris Elba. 

So, happn. Not really revolutionising dating or leading the industry. If anything, they’ve arrived at the gig after the headline act and they’re listening to the fans drunkenly singing the greatest hits. At least they’ll be able to assess who is the most attractive, I assume. The features they’re introducing aren’t novel and some will probably be used more than others. I would assume that attaching audio clips to profiles will only catch on with wannabe musicians, and voice notes and voice calls will be reasonably popular. 

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