Bumble launches new features including 'blind Speed Dating' and 'Recommend to a Friend'

Woman holding a heart and covering her eyes with an image of a phone with a Bumble app open
Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Getty Images

If you're a certain (younger) age, speed or 'blind' dates are probably foreign concepts, a form of dating relegated to retro rom-coms (like Hitch, circa 2005 - gulp) or regaled with nostalgia by your grandparents. 

But like flares and '70s music, everything comes back around eventually, with dating app Bumble announcing a modernised form of online 'blind' speed dating for the new generation - and yes, calm down, it's online. Meeting someone in person? Shudder at the thought. 

The app, which made a name for itself by requiring women to make the first move with their match, has launched a suite of new features in New Zealand in a bid to make dating more fun.

The first new feature, Speed Dating, aims to bring the archaic concept of speed dating to the online experience, allowing its users to go into a match 'blind' - in other words, without first seeing their photos. If you've seen the chaotic Netflix series Love is Blind, you'll know what this means: attempting to forgo physical attraction by connecting with the person for who they are, rather than what they look like. 

The new Speed Dating feature requires people to start a conversation with their pairing without seeing any of their photos, with profile pictures hidden for the first three minutes of messaging. Once the three minutes are up, each person will be asked if they would like to continue the conversation and if both people choose to match, their chat will move to their Date Mode queue, with their profiles then available to be perused freely.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bumble's APAC communications director Lucille McCart said the new experience aims to foster "intrigue and anticipation" in a "low-pressure" environment. 

"It allows the Bumble community to build connections based on personality and shared interests, which are much truer indicators of compatibility than looks," she said. 

Research conducted last year found that for New Zealand's Bumble users, the majority (63 percent) said they are more focused on emotional maturity than physical attributes, while 40 percent ranked emotional intelligence as the most attractive trait in a potential partner.

The new Speed Dating event will be held weekly on Thursdays from 7pm to 8pm. Users can RSVP within the app each week by clicking on the stopwatch icon in the top right corner of the swipe queue screen, McCart explained, with the pairings based on location, age and gender preferences. Users can sign up any time before the game starts, or during the hour when Speed Dating is in play.

Woman Covering Her Eyes Holding Big Heart - stock photo
Is blind dating making a resurgence - online? Photo credit: Getty Images

Another new feature being launched is Compliments, which gives users the opportunity to be more intentional about beginning a conversation in a positive way. It could also give you an edge over the others: if you're the only one to offer a compliment, surely that will work in your favour. 

The 'message-before-match' feature allows users to send a note before connecting, reinforcing that "kindness matters", McCart said. And whoever said nice guys finish last needs to brush up on their research: members who engage with the Compliments feature have a statistically better chance of matching and are more likely to have a positive interaction with their possible partner, McCart said.

"Sending a compliment on Bumble can be as simple as sending a kind message when you come across someone's profile whom you share a common interest with, such as music taste or favourite movie."

In this photo illustration, the location-based social and dating application Bumble logo is seen displayed on a smartphone with an economic stock exchange index graph in the background.
Bumble has launched a suite of new features in New Zealand in a bid to make dating more fun. Photo credit: Getty Images

The final new addition to the app is Recommend to a Friend, a feature that allows the community to brandish their cupid's arrow and play matchmaker by helping find their friends new connections. If you come across a person on Bumble that's not quite ticking your boxes but might be your mate's perfect match, you can now directly share a link to their profile. 

"We all know that feeling when you come across a profile that ticks all the boxes of your bestie. Now you can help your friends find dates by sharing the profile of their perfect match with them," McCart said.

Bumble, a social networking and dating app that has a "women-first" approach, was founded by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014.