In a world awash with digital dating apps, the most successful one in China by far has been the hook-up app Momo (‘the unknown’), a clone of Bang With Friends.
But what if people want more than a casual flirting? App designers and entrepreneurs in China are tweaking the addictive formula of stranger app and have come up with a gaggle of variations on mobile dating.
Moumou (‘someone’), for example, provides a more serious take on digital dating—it helps users meet people through mutual friends, like Hinge. The gist is that mutual friends can act as a baseline of trust and the process resembles how people normally meet new friends in an offline situation, aka through introduction. To avoid message spam, users get introduced only when they both show interest in each other.
Yujian (‘meeting’) is an all-in-one solution to friend-finding: It uses big data to identify people’s Ms/Mr.Right; it supports topic-oriented group chats to enable easier ice-breaking; it maps out users that are close by; it lets users connect through messaging, voice messaging, video chatting or photo sharing. Yujian claims 15 million people are using its iOS or Android app.
Zhantai (‘railway platform’) is another interesting tweak on proximity-chat app, allowing users to meet strangers they run into at subway stations. It shows how many times users have encountered someone and, like Moumou, conversations are based on a mutual agreement. Perhaps to make it less creepy and more fun, it could look to Draw Something With Strangers On A Train.
Doujiangyoutiao (‘soymilk and Chinese doughnut’) adapts its metaphoric meaning in Chinese, ‘the perfect match’, and builds a gamified dating process to get rid of the creepy factor of dating apps. This is how it works: The app arbitrarily shows profiles of four strangers nearby. The user is first asked to choose a user based on visual appeal, then they are asked to choose one of the four backgrounds listed randomly. Finally the app will decide how well the user is matched to their prospective match. Only the perfect match can start chatting.
Digital dating, despite its social stigma of being superficial, has actually driven many of us to meet people in the real world and many O2O relationships turn out to be long-lasting. With less spam, better friend recommendation and higher credibility, stranger apps are back in China, again.