Sunday, 19 May 2013

Going mobile to find him

Gaydar's new Find Him feature
Apps for smart phones have become all the rage, we all know that. You can get one for just about anything. And while they are an effective tool to reach customers for any brand wanting to appear modern, they do present a big problem for developers and to a point for users: The need to comply with whatever rules the owner of the shop/OS carrying your app decides to impose on content and format.

There are also fears that apps could lead to a ghettoisation of the Web, where it is no longer possible to move easily from one platform to another.

From a gay user's perspective, perhaps the most obvious manifestation of those restrictions on content, are the policies on levels of nudity allowed in geolocated "dating" apps; policies, the implementation of which has been known to be patchy and inconsistant, not to mention, for the developer, (no doubt) costly to enforce and police.

It is therefore interesting and perhaps not altogether surprising that Gaydar, the enduring gay dating website, have decided to complement their current offer with a new mobile version of their website. They launched an app a few years ago, no doubt spurred to do so by the inexorable rise of that other big boy of the gay meet with whom they share more than a few letters in their name: Grindr.

Founded in 1999, Gaydar had for years been cruising (pardon the pun) on its position as leader of the market. Having had a (fallow) profile since 2000 when I moved to London, I can recall very little changing in the look of the site for close to a decade, but eventually, it was time to do something and in recent years some visual changes, perhaps not always altogether successful, have been implemented.

This need for change has been made all the more pressing by the popularisation of smart phones, and eventually a more thorough redesign, an app and now a rebrand (away from their original orangey yellow) and this new mobile site were born unto us.

The mobile site comes with a more user-friendly version of the advanced search of the main website, allowing you to refine your geolocated shopping list for Mr Right, Mr Rightnow or Mr Letsbefriends, down to their age, height or even hair colour. This is a level of selectivity that other players on that scene probably don't offer.

I suspect such level of pickiness will however only be effectively possible in Soho Square on a sunny summer day, Vauxhall around midnight on a Saturday or at a concert of the London Gay Men's Chorus, when your phone is at risk of exploding under the pressure of all the possibilities. Forget it though, if you live in the middle of Shropshire, unless you have a touch of the old wanderlust.

For some unknown reason, Gaydar decided to get in touch with me with a bunch of nice goodies prior to launching the site. In my exchange with them, they seemed very confident that this new "Find Him" feature would allow me to meet my Prince Charming in no time. They would say that, I suppose, and I am sure that many of their users will love twiddling those extra new knobs on their screen, but I am personally not holding my breath. I am as bad at online encounters as offline and I am resigned to the fact that for little old me, as Quentin Crisp used to say, there is no great dark man. Don't let that stop you, though.

Gays are often vaunted as trend-setters. We certainly were the first to get on the smart phone "dating" act. Could this move from Gaydar be the first frisson of some online rebellion against the hegemony of the likes of Apple and Google, and a return towards a more open and free mobile web? It would be nice to think so.

As for Gaydar itself, the fact that it recently passed into new hands may herald even further changes.

Disclaimer: I received a 30-day unlimited membership and several goodies from Gaydar.

1 comment:

  1. interesting news! Thanks for the update Mr Zefrog!


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