Tab Dating, however, wants to change that – and its premise is as simple as it sounds.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
In a nutshell, you install a Chrome extension and log in via Facebook (it doesn’t post to Facebook on your behalf) and then every time you open a new page, you’ll see the image of a new match in the lower-right corner of your browser.
Shib Hussain, co-founder of the company, says that it’s designed to put the serendipity back into ‘bumping’ into someone. The idea isn’t that you use it as a dedicated dating service, but more that you dip in and dip out while you’re getting on with other things.
To that end, there’s an option to mute it while you’re at work, so that you don’t get any more matches for a while.
Right now, it’s only open to users in London but Hussain says there are plans to take it further afield, and international, if the demand is there from users.
Once you find someone you like the look of, clicking their image displays a larger one in the middle of your new tab page, and allows you to scroll through additional pictures if they’ve been provided.
Clicking the heart icon will only send them a notification if they reciprocate and like the look of you too.
Given that the whole aim is to engineer the idea of just ‘bumping’ into someone, there’s a good chance that two matches would perhaps not get shown to each other if left to utter randomness, so instead the algorithm will show your profile to someone you indicate you like within the next few matches.
There are short, basic sections for adding a little bio info and images too, which are simple to manage and update.
If they like you too, you can start chatting. Simple.
I had feared I’d have to do this write-up without having a single match. Then just as I was about to hit publish on this article, I got a match notification.
That was pretty exciting. I sent a message to try and test out the service some more, and ‘Katie’ replied. She was a little camera shy though, so didn’t want her face plastering all over the Web.
Hussain says that on average users are opening around 25 tabs per day – falling to 15 on weekends – and that the average number of tabs to open per match is around 33.
Katie told me that she’s been using the service for around a week and has had a few matches, though no dates as yet – no one worth meeting has yet presented themself. She also said that she has used Tinder in the past, but that the people she’s matching with and the conversations she’s having on Tab Dating are more interesting and less seedy.
As it stands, it’s a reasonably ‘local’ service that still needs to find its feet and work out how best to grow – it’s the beginnings of a dating service that still needs to mature.
Nonetheless, the idea of being presented with potential matches every time you open a new tab page clearly resonates with a lot of people; Tab Date put up a landing page in June last year before writing a single line of code and quickly garnered over 4,000 interested users. With the idea proven, the founders decided to take the plunge and start building, ultimately launching in the middle of last month.
For now, it’s all free too – messaging, matches, everything. Though, as with most dating services, I probably wouldn’t expect it to stay that way forever.