The 26-year-old from Las Vegas used an app called Snack to scroll through videos of women walking down the street, showing off their outfits, or lip-syncing to the camera.
One caught his eye – a tall, pretty blond recording herself walking through Disney California Adventure Park to the Avengers Campus, where she ordered a cocktail at the bar.
Coyle had stumbled upon Snack, an app that bills itself as “TikTok meets Tinder,” just a few days earlier. It’s one of a handful of innovative dating apps that are trying to capture the attention of Gen Z, many of whose members say they are tired of the apps that have dominated the online dating scene for nearly a decade – Bumble, Hinge and, above all, Tinder, which popularized the now-ubiquitous “swipe to match” user interface.
Looking for love with someone who shares your Myers-Briggs personality type, or your love of video games? Want to see a blurry photo of your prospective partner that gets progressively sharper the longer you chat? The options abound.
Heterosexual couples in the U.S. are now more likely to meet a romantic partner online than via any other mode of connection. A 2017 survey found 39% of such couples reported meeting their partner online, compared with 22% in 2009.
And during the pandemic, online dating reached new heights – with Bumble reporting a 70% increase in video calls and Tinder exceeding 3 billion swipes in one day for the first time in .
“Dating apps provide that opportunity for you to meet people outside of your typical circles that you would be in day to day and I think that’s really powerful – people say opposites attract,” Snack Chief Executive Kim Kaplan said.
Underscoring its intention to court a new generation of daters, Snack eliminated the swipe northern Maine singles gesture in favor of pressing a heart button or sending a message. Attempting to swipe brings up the cheeky error message “swiping is old af.”
“Swiping is 10 years old now,” said Kaplan, who was one of the first employees at Match and involved with the dating app Plenty of Fish, which eventually was sold for $575 million.
That’s not all that’s been freshened up. Users upload TikTok-style videos instead of photos, there’s no field for a bio, and you can even upload videos to an Instagram-style “story” that people can view after you match with them.
Taking a page from the early days of Tinder, the company is focusing on on-the-ground promotion at college campuses and currently has the most users in California, Texas, Florida and New York
TikTok, where Snack advertises, played a major role in its creation. Kaplan was scrolling through the app one day in early 2020 when she came across a video of a woman introducing herself with her name, age and star sign. Her caption included the hashtag “#single.” Kaplan realized she had discovered an entire “underbelly” of dating already occurring on TikTok.
They told her most people of their generation only used the swiping apps because they had to, preferring to move the conversation to a more casual social media platform such as Instagram or Snapchat as quickly as possible.
Nearly half of all 18- to 29-year-olds say they have used a dating app in their life, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study
It also produces a dating show streamed live every week on TikTok. Although Kaplan declined to disclose user numbers, Snack, which launched in , was the 10th-most-downloaded dating app in the U.S. in August.