There’s a new dating app on the smartphone scene: Happn. It helps people get in touch who have actually crossed paths in real life. But does its geolocation feature present a privacy trap?
Paris may be “the city of love” – but when it comes to finding a partner, the situation in the French capital is not particularly easy. According to a recent poll, 51 percent of the Parisian population is single.
But a new dating app could change that. Happn is the most recent addition to smartphone applications like Tinder and Lovoo, which tap your Facebook profile and use geolocation to help match you up with others nearby.
But what sets Happn apart is that it populates your feed with people whom you have actually crossed paths with in real life.
Thuy-Vi, a 26-year-old from Agen who recently moved to Paris, is a Parisian single. She says it is hard to meet girls in the city. She tried using a few location-based dating apps on her smartphone – like Tinder – but says she didn’t like it.
“I’m not really fond of dating apps. I don’t believe in them,” she says. “I think it’s really unnatural … the way we rate people, randomly like this. I don’t really like this idea.”
Happn was created by three Frenchmen – Didier Rappaport, Fabien and Anthony Cohen – about a year ago. They describe the app as making full use of the geolocation service on our smartphones.
Instead of connecting you with strangers who are in your area via a location-based app like Tinder, Happn lets you contact people you’ve crossed paths with in real life.
You first link your Facebook account to the app. Once that’s done, you can put your smartphone in sleep mode and spend the day as you would normally.
The app is always working in the background. When you open it later on in the day, your feed will show profiles of users who took the metro with you, walked down the same city street, or frequented the same cafe.
“They may be people you’ve noticed or people you didn’t notice at the time,” he explains. “So when you look at your feed on Happn, you can say, ‘Oh, I would have liked to have met that person,'” he says.
The app is free to download on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms. A user would pay for certain functions, such as sending “charms” to strangers you’ve crossed paths with.
“The nudist chat zone fact that you cross paths with people during the day gives you a good excuse to start to talk to them,” Csilla says.
Although she’s had fun with it, she still finds it “weird that you can track where you met other users.”
For it to work properly, the geolocation service on your phone needs to be on all the time. And that means Happn is always tracking you, too.
“We wanted to protect our users – that’s why we made the geolocation imprecise,” he explains. “Today, we are able to geolocate people very precisely. But Happn [only] locates with a precision of up to 250 meters.”
The fears some might have over Happn’s geotagging haven’t stopped the app from becoming a success in France: The dating software has just reached the 1-million-user mark, and is now a serious competitor to Tinder.
For now, Rappaport and his team of 25 are concentrating on big capital cities. The service has recently been gaining traction in London, Madrid and Budapest.
If in Paris, you could still have a romantic rendezvous with a stranger by chance on the world-famous Pont des Arts or next to the Sacre-Coeur. But if you use Happn, you might actually … make it happen.
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