tl;dr: it’s all about intimacy and making an engaging connection.

The explosive mainstreaming of dating apps such as Tinder has transformed the way human beings (on smartphones, anyway) find love. Far from the days of courtship via sonnets penned by candlelight, the window of opportunity has shortened to literally a blink of an eye, and love seekers need to be armed with better tools to make a human connection through the pixels of a 750 x 1334 point screen.

Here at Layer, we thought what better time to share our thinking about love and apps than the week of Valentine’s Day. Especially when some dating apps will see downloads as much as quadruple.

As a baseline, most dating apps give romance seekers the ability to view others’ profiles, select those individuals that pique their interest and send them a message. For most, it stops there. Further, the existing basic chat experience is all too often below par — we’ve become accustomed to exceptional messaging experiences like that of iMessage and the bar is raised significantly — setting into effect a series of correlated events: messaging doesn’t work well, and as a result the app creator loses engagement. Users go elsewhere.

dating app with basic messaging

But they don’t have to lose those users.

Dating app creators who add a simple but powerful feature like typing indicator to a chat experience can help create a sense of presence in a dating app, creating intimacy between the two people chatting. Coupled with read receipts, the two features can transform the communications dynamic.

In adding these features alone, a dating app becomes more engaging.

See how that works?

A dating app rich with native communications lets people use various senses to aid in the formation of a human connection. The ability to hear the intonations in someone’s voice, see their mannerisms on video and see them in photos depicting their hobbies and interests can give a much greater sense of who someone is than a static profile. Dating app creators who add these abilities, coupled with text-based, in-app messaging, will give suitors a more cohesive representation of the person they’re engaging with in the app. The app becomes more engaging.

dating app with photo sharing

In dating apps, that first interaction between suitor and potential love interest isextremelyimportant. That very first exchange can either pique interest or completely deter. Native, IP-based communications allow app creators to incorporate rich content objects that both relieve the pressure of the exchange and make it fun, and also perhaps give the two people a better sense of the other. Imagine a trivia question as an icebreaker…

dating app with trivia

Adding native communications can dramatically boost engagement in a dating app.

Dating apps have among the highest frequency of users per week of any category, behind only messaging and games. But usage quickly drops off after people form a connection in the app. Retention over 90 days is among the lowest of any category. When a connection is viable, people take their communication elsewhere.

Dating apps have great potential to provide utility beyond just facilitating the formation of a romantic connection, thus increasing engagement.

If you think of establishing the connection and demonstrating mutual interest as step one, the logical next step is a date. Using the dating app to continue the natural progression of a budding relationship keeps the communication in-app and in context. For the app creator, this is especially important as it maintains user engagement where it would otherwise drop off.

dating app with calendaring

A note on privacy: Adding native, in-app, IP-based communications has tremendous value in the dating category, particularly. Native messaging means users are able to maintain privacy and some element of anonymity. They need not share their phone number, which would be a requirement of sending or receiving an SMS.

At Layer we believe half of every app’s potential is enabling its users to connect with one another and communicate in the context of their shared interest. Never is this more true or more apparent than in looking at the dating app category.

Layer provides all of the building blocks to create rich, native communications experiences of all kinds.

All functionality mentioned here is possible with Layer today. We can’t wait to see what you imagine and build.

Thanks to Robert Long and Tomaz Stolfa for contributing to this post.