Online dating sites are all about bringing people together. If you meet a new friend on a social networking site and only want to interact in the virtual domain, it probably doesn’t matter if that person is half a continent or even half a world away. If you’re looking to take things further and form a relationship or meet a new partner however, it helps if you don’t have to hop on a plane in order to meet in the flesh.
Innovations in geolocation technology are increasingly being used by the new breed of social dating sites. Sites like Badoo are a relatively new phenomenon, bringing together elements of traditional dating sites and social media networks. Much like a social media site, they allow users to communicate in a variety of different ways, from direct messages and chat to games and interactive content. The focus is very much on the one-to-one dating side of things however. And geolocation is being used to bring more and more people together.
Dating on the move
The rise of geolocated online dating has been made possible by the increased availability and accessibility of GPS-enabled mobile devices. Many of us now have a smartphone such as an Android, Blackberry or iPhone that can be used to pinpoint our location, as well as deliver information such maps, directions and the nearest place to eat.
Most of the major new dating platforms, such as TheComplete.me, Zoosk and Badoo offer apps that can be used on the go. Badoo, for example, can be accessed via its main website through any sort of Internet connection. It is also available as an Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Facebook app. This recognises the fact that the way people use online dating sites (and indeed the way they access the ‘net as a whole) is changing. Mobile access is on the rise and this allows dating sites to make use of the geolocation features already built into their members’ phones.
The old and the new
Some of the established giants of online dating, such as eHarmony and match.com have recognised the importance of mobile devices. They’ve been busy developing their own apps but without including geolocation features, perhaps in the belief that members prefer to take their time and get ready before a date.
The advent of geolocation does open up a new possibility – that of the ‘instant date’. By utilizing the GPS chip in a user’s phone, geolocation allows that user to search for other members within the same area. At the same time, depending on their privacy setting, it will make their own location visible to others. This can allow the more confident or impulsive user to arrange a date there and then, whether they’re sitting in a coffee shop after work or away on an out of town trip.
Online dating, like everything else online, is constantly evolving. The widespread use of geolocation is still fairly new but it does look like it’s here to stay.
==== About the author ====
Alexandru Rotaru is an online marketing expert who specializes in Social Media and online technology and communication. In the past few years, Alexandru has collaborated with many industry publications for which he’s written articles and marketing-related guides. Follow him on Twitter: @L24alexr