Finding love online through chat and calls with Hinge

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Customer Information

Customer

Hinge

Product

Array, Array

Vertical

Social & Community

Country

USA

5 week

development time for voice and video calls

100%

chat uptime

6.5x

MAU

Customer

Hinge

Product

Sendbird Chat
Sendbird Calls

Vertical

Social & Community

Country

USA

Getting to know Hinge

Hinge is a popular dating app that aims to help people truly connect and build meaningful relationships. With features that prevent ghosting, a profile that promotes personalities (not just photos), a vertical timeline (i.e., no swiping), and a “most compatible” feature, Hinge takes dating seriously. Hinge operates on a mobile-first philosophy and features a Nobel Prize-winning matching algorithm. Built for millennials, Hinge is designed to be deleted since it aims to build long-term relationships with compatible matches.

Hinge was doing well before the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID hit, Hinge wanted to continue offering stellar user experiences and fostering genuine connections in the new environment. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders from local governments made it difficult to have traditional in-person dates. Hinge knew they needed to adapt to keep their users connected. 

The best way of doing this was to implement new technology that would enable users to connect with each other in a secure, reliable, and enjoyable manner. This meant adding robust chat, voice, and video call functionality to their application. 

Handling the requirements of chat, voice, and video

After people match in Hinge, a seamless conversation helps to establish connection, chemistry, and familiarity before the date begins. Creating an engaging and reliable messaging experience is paramount to a successful dating app. 

Hinge had invested their engineering resources in the core aspects of the dating app, such as using a Nobel Prize winning algorithm and designing a frictionless UX. Hinge needed an in-app service that was reliable and scalable in accordance with Hinge’s plans for global expansion. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinge had successfully implemented in-app chat with Sendbird. As the pandemic developed,  Sendbird had implemented chat for Hinge, and Hinge was very happy with the level of service provided by Sendbird. During the pandemic, it quickly became apparent that in-person dates were not feasible and providing in-app calls enabled Hinge to continue to offer an engaging user experience. When the pandemic hit, video quickly went from a “nice-to-have” feature to an urgent necessity because people were isolated and often mandated to stay home. This made it impossible to meet in person. After surveying its users, Hinge found that 70% were open to virtual dating. 

Another key consideration was the finding that users were turning away from Hinge in favor of other chat/call/video platforms such as Zoom. This inevitably led users away from Hinge, and further confirmed the need to add chat and voice/video calls as in-app features to enable people to build new relationships throughout the pandemic.

Building on their positive experience with Sendbird’s chat API, Hinge once again considered Sendbird for their voice and video calling needs. After doing their due diligence by considering vendors in addition to Sendbird, Hinge ultimately selected Sendbird to implement in-app voice and video calls because of Sendbird’s reliability, ease of integration, robust infrastructure, and global distribution. 

Ben Celebicic, CTO of Hinge, explained the reasoning behind selecting Sendbird for in-app chat.

“We decided on Sendbird primarily for two reasons: their product seemed very much in line with our needs (i.e., richly-featured chat service), and their client base gave us confidence that they would be able to handle our traffic and projected growth.”

Ben Celebicic
CTO of Hinge

The Sendbird advantage

Since in-app chat, voice, and video were outside of Hinge’s core competencies, Hinge knew they needed a third-party API provider to get them going quickly. Security, stability, quality, and ongoing support were all important to Hinge. They sought a sophisticated solution that could provide a high level of abstraction of the IP-based communication and a graceful coverage of the entire experience. This was essential to ensure smooth and rapid development, and by extension, a faster time to market.

To maintain an excellent user experience for their large user base, Hinge developers wanted modern code, frequent bug fixes, and good documentation. They needed scalability and reliability in a short amount of time.

Hinge chose Sendbird’s in-app chat, voice, and video calling API because we could deliver on all their objectives.

Building a market-leading experience

There were two major in-app capabilities  for which Sendbird helped Hinge: 

  1. Chat
  2. Voice and video calls

Chat

With regards to chat, Sendbird helped Hinge to migrate from the previous message service provider with a customized two-pronged approach. This included batch migration of all past data, and a proprietary live sync service to carry out data updates in real-time. 

Sendbird’s solution to Hinge consisted of every necessary chat feature like 1-on-1 messaging, group channels, push notifications, typing indicators, read receipts, user-to-user blocking, and rich media. Beyond our core features, Hinge also used premium features like the message retrieval and data export APIs to ensure that it had prompt access to sanitized message data, if it ever became necessary.

Voice & video

Implementation of the voice and video functionality was collaborative and the experience was easy to customize. With the Sendbird API, Hinge was able to seamlessly integrate voice and video calling in their app to create the user experience they wanted. 

The following were the key features we implemented:

  • 1:1 voice and video chat
  • Reliable connectivity and call quality, with no lags
  • Industry-standard connection to chat userID to streamline connection and enhance analytics
  • Strong ability to host millions of peak connections at the same time
  • Secure user experience, with user authentication and media stream encryption
  • Abundance of support resources for developers, such as a sample app, documentation, webhooks, and frequent SDK/API updates

Achieving a fast time to market was a key consideration in planning the engagement with Sendbird. Mitch LaPoff, a product manager at Hinge, explained, “We really wanted to get it [voice and video calls] out to our users as fast as we could… We felt like we could hit the ground running the fastest with Sendbird… that was a huge plus.”

Jason Pearson, an Android developer at Hinge said that Sendbird’s reliable support was another huge factor in making this business collaboration a success. “There were some issues with other providers’ SDK support,” he said. “Sendbird, however, has always supported us, even if we were the ones that caused the issue… this made us feel really confident about our ability to get the support we needed for video and calls.”

Safety considerations for chat, voice, and video

Security and safety are top concerns in the online dating space. In-app calling lets users determine if they have chemistry and helps them feel safe before sharing personal information such as phone numbers. It also helps to ensure that the person they have been chatting with matches the profile. In addition, voice and video calls help daters get to know each other and establish trust before leaving the platform – hopefully for an in-person date.

Results that build meaningful relationships

The outcomes of Hinge’s business engagement with Sendbird have been fantastic. 

With Sendbird’s in-app chat, Hinge has:

  • 100% uptime for its chat service, ensuring every prospective match’s message is on time and well-timed
  • Gone to market in less than 10 weeks without disrupting the existing app experience
  • Saved significant engineering resources spent on migrating to and developing a reliable, scalable messaging service. Achieved 6.5x MAU and 1.5x monthly message count

The voice and video calls features have also yielded spectacular results:

  •  67% of Hinge users report that their first video chat was fun
  • More than 50% of users who have gone on a video date are likely to keep using video
  • Development took 5 weeks

Innovating rapidly during the pandemic, Hinge found in-app chat, audio, and video calls to be a safe and fun way for their users to keep engaging and developing chemistry despite social distancing. By engaging Sendbird as a service provider, Hinge was able to save engineering resources and focus on what they do best – building safe and fun dating experiences.