With New Social App Swoon, People Discovery Is a Thumb-Flick Away

Published on March 15, 2013
by Mike Isaac

swoonAndroidAnd like that, it’s as easy as a flick of the thumb to decide on turning a virtual relationship into a face-to-face meeting.

I’m talking about Swoon, a new, real-world, Android-based discovery app, created by the social company Tagged, which launched on Friday morning. The concept is about as simple as it gets: Connect your Facebook profile to the app, and you’re up and running with a Swoon profile filled out from that data. From there, you’re presented with cards of different people using the service, complete with big, bold pictures and their profile details below.

Like them? Hit the check mark to say you’re interested in meeting them. Not your cup of tea? Tap the “X” box to move on to the next person. If the other person wants to meet you too, Swoon will connect you two. If not, nothing happens. Easy as that.

If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Right now, another slickly designed social discovery app called Tinder is basically doing the exact same thing. And Let’s Date, the app released last month from Los Angeles-based incubator Science, is also offering a similar service, though with the express intent of setting people up on dates. (Tinder and Swoon only profess to help you find “interesting new people.”)

But it goes back much further than that. Remember “Hot or Not”? Launched in 2000, it was the original social network, where users were presented with a picture and a single choice — is this person hot, or not? (Even Mark Zuckerberg was influenced by it, creating a similar version of the site using photos from schoolmates back in his Harvard days.)

Because of its simple nature, the website’s growth curve exploded. It was easy: All you had to do was make a choice, and move on to the next person.

Swoon3That’s exactly why the Swoons, Tinders and Let’s Dates of the world are so potentially addicting. Perhaps you’ll actually meet someone new, or perhaps you’ll just have fun looking at all the pretty (and not so pretty) people, checking off which ones you like and flicking away the others. The point is that it’s fast as hell, a single-serving app that carries out its purpose.

That’s unlike, say, one beefy app that can do a bunch of different things. “We’re transforming from being used to single, multi-use-case apps into multiple, single-use apps,” Greg Tseng, CEO of Tagged, said in an interview. “Just take a look at the simplicity of Instagram.”

Tseng’s comparison is interesting. Facebook has launched multiple stand-alone apps over the past year — Poke, Camera, Messenger and the acquired Instagram — some of which offer features that are already inside the main Facebook app. And now Twitter has Vine, a standalone video app, and also plans to soon launch a music-centric app as well.

My theory here: All of these services — Facebook, Twitter and Tagged — have smaller, satellite apps surrounding their main services. If they can bring in new users via these single-use-case apps and get them to start using the main service, then that’s a net win for everyone.

Tagged is going after the Android market first, launching in the Google Play store beginning immediately. More Tagged users are on Android over iOS at a ratio of 2 to 1, and apps like Tinder and Let’s Date are iOS only right now. But expect another release for iOS in the future.

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