The forever lonely have criticized dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel for being shallow and ineffective due to their appearance-first approaches to mating. Pre-swipe, there isn’t much to discern about a someone’s personality save for a brief bio that is more often poorly utilized to tell a joke or describe oneself using only emojis than give real windows into our deep, deep souls.
Tinder recently became the top grossing iOS app after releasing its paid premium feature, Tinder Gold, so others are now desperately trying to compete with their unique angles on digital dating. More recently, apps like Hater, where singles connect over mutual dislikes and Dating.ai, where matches are made between celebrity look-likes, have gained some ground in the market but they have yet to become true contenders or household names. But what if, instead of building on an already proven formula—a finger swipe, a short bio, your age and a cute profile picture—you do the exact opposite? That’s what Taffy is trying to do.
Taffy operates on the notion that getting to know a person is more important than judging them out of the gate on their appearances. Here’s how it works: Instead of finding a standard profile photo, users see pixelated images with text overlays that serve as the single’s sales pitch. Something like, “Gentlemen prefer blondes, but I’m no gentleman.“ If a user is titilated by the headline, they can open a chat with the individual and cross their fingers that it pays off. The user’s photo will become incrementally clearer with each interaction. After about 10 back-and-forths (the app’s algorithm hopes to one day be able to rate quality of conversation to determine the pace of the reveal), users will finally be able to see the person they’ve been talking to.
Taffy’s founder, John Schenk, told Mashable the goal is to "put personality on a level playing field with physical appearances.” He also mentions the app offers ice breakers for shy singles who may be apprehensive to reach out.
The app’s sentiment is touching, there’s no doubt about that. Our parents would be proud. But how much can you really get to know about a person through text? Millennials are about instant gratification after all, and Taffy sounds hella time-consuming, especially when you’re not sexually attracted to the person you’ve been chatting up for the past hour. Even so, what happens when your picture is revealed and the person suddenly ghosts? I’ll tell you: you’re going to feel absolutely terrible, which overshadows the app’s charm. Opening Tinder and having no matches is one level of sadness; being ghosted over and over again after someone sees your face? We wish that on no one.
It’s worth noting that Taffy isn’t limited to dating, offering a bevy of motives including “love,” “chat” and “advice.” Then again, why the hell would you blur the face of somebody you want advice from? As a man who met his soon-to-be wife on a dating app, I admit I’m conflicted whether Taffy is a refreshing approach to online dating or a total mess. But because I’m no longer eligible to find out for myself, I ask that you check it out and report back.
You can download the app here.