Tinder had a good run.
It burst on to the scene in 2013, and was quickly feted as the future of its genre – leaving old-school contenders such as OKCupid and Plenty of Fish in the dust, with its mobile focus and its sheer simplicity.
Its appeal was clear. In a world where online dating was dominated by lengthy questionnaires, and ridiculously detailed forms that covered everything from your favourite animals to your shoe size, Tinder brought it back down to one key factor: do I fancy this person?
But too much simplicity can be a bad thing – and public opinion has definitely started to turn on the sterile nature of Tinder interactions. So has new kid on the block Happn managed to strike the balance between the two? We certainly think so... and here's why.
1. It's already got enough users to make it viable
Let's start with the first question most would-be users will have: is there anyone bloody well on it?
For most people, the primary fear about using a new app like this is that it'll be like going into Coppers before midnight – empty, but for the odd smattering of overly enthusiastic lotharios, and thus a general waste of everyone's time.
But while it might not boast the same numbers as Tinder just yet – and while no subscription numbers have been made available – from our trial this week, the 'population' of Happn users in Dublin is definitely more than enough to make it worthwhile.
2. It's based on your location – but in a different way to Tinder
Tinder allows you to set a radius of interest, and match with anyone inside that area – up to distances so large that it's possible to match with Welsh people. Which is great and all (that accent!) but not particularly practical.
Happn, on the other hand, alerts you to people you've 'crossed paths' with – to within a distance of 250m.
There's no more matching with someone because they happened to be in McSorley's for one night, only to find out they live in the foothills of the Dublin mountains
Whether by walking past them, sitting in the same café as them or living in the same neighbourhood as them, this is pretty much the new kid's selling point; bringing you in touch with people you actually encounter in real life, as opposed to just providing you with an endless, open field.
3. Like Tinder, you can only chat if the attraction is mutual
Seems a bit of a no-brainer, given the whole location functionality, that the app allows you to control who contacts you – and they can only get in touch if there's a match (or a 'Crush' as they call it) to begin with.
But we thought we'd better throw it out there just in case – it offsets the potential creepiness of the concept rather nicely.
4. You have the option to 'Like' and 'Charm'
Think of a 'Like' as a swipe right – the other person knows nothing, unless they like you back, in which case a connection is established and you can start having the chats. A 'Charm', meanwhile, sends the other party a notification, which they can ignore or reciprocate.
You can also 'X' someone (ie, swipe left) anonymously – so no hard feelings and all that. The only problem is that, unlike Tinder, the people you 'Like' stay visible... permanent reminders of all the people who saw you and said 'meh'.
Sure look. It builds character.
5. It addresses the fact that guys and girls use these platforms differently – and that's where they'll make their money
This may rub some people up the wrong way, but here goes: the app is free for women to use, whereas guys have to pay for Charms.
But let's be fair. While the stereotype of the swipe-happy guy and the ultra-picky girl is by no means representative of the entire population, there does seem to be a difference in how both sexes use the app.
Happn have seized upon this, by giving just 10 'Charms' to the gents (plus five every time they refer a friend), while giving the ladies an unlimited supply. If the guys want more, they'll have to pay for them – €1.99 for 10, €10.99 for 60, €16.99 for 100 or €36.99 for a whopping 250.
Whether this creates a form of economy whereby 'Charms' will be a prerequisite to a match remains to be seen. But for now, at least, it's a rather clever model.
6. It's integrated with Spotify, which is just brilliant
There are few better bonding topics than music, and Happn is all over that – which makes for its most underrated but unique feature.
You can integrate Spotify with the app, add favourite songs to your profile (which can be viewed and played by people who check you out) and send songs to people you're chatting to. Tinder can keep its 'moments'.
7. The service isn't quite as robust as Tinder – yet
Yeah, let's not get too ahead of ourselves in terms of what works and what doesn't.
Just last night, the service suffered an outage for around an hour – forcing some users to delete the app and reinstall it, as failed sign-in attempts sent the app into a cycle of repeated crashes. They're attempting to scale up in a big way, and appear to be doing so, but there may be some growing pains along the way.
8. You're invited to state your occupation
Whether we want to date within our industry, or explicitly avoid it, chances are we have some preference one way or the other.
And while placing your job title in your Tinder bio is the mark of a workaholic (or an all-round nob), Happn invites you to address the elephant in the room by just putting it straight out there. A positive move in our books.
9. But the people on it are people you'll actually be able to date
Right now, there's a particularly sound bunch on there.
In general, early adopters of any service are fairly cool – people who are willing to try new things, jump when nobody else has jumped, and in some cases, people who are absolutely exhausted by the sheer repetitiveness and oversimplicity of Tinder. So, based on our own anecdotal evidence here at Lovin Dublin, they're a sound bunch.
But also, thanks to the functionality of the app – prioritising people based on how often you crossed paths with them – it tends to genuinely match you with people you've a chance of seeing on a day-to-day basis. So there's no more matching with someone because they happened to be in McSorley's for one night, only to find out they live in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, or work in the midlands.
It's simple, it's decent fun, it's definitely got an edge on Tinder – and most importantly of all, it's perfect for Dublin.
If they market themselves right, and fix those tech issues, Happn is definitely here to stay.