A Venice gondola ride is a pretty bold move for a first date. But on a virtual date? It might be just what the love doctor ordered.
At the Snap Partner Summit Thursday, Snap announced a new partnership with Bumble. The dating app is bringing the Snapchat camera to video calls and video messages, so users can access AR lenses directly in Bumble.
“Whether it’s a picnic in Paris or a gondola ride in Venice, we’re offering the ability to create this sort of 360-degree background to almost imitate what it’s like to be together in real life,” Charley Webb, Bumble’s chief customer officer, said while speaking with Mashable ahead of Thursday’s announcement. “So it sort of takes a video call to that next level.”
The lenses in video calls will all be focused on creating some ~atmosphere~. Users can choose between six different virtual backgrounds for their dates, including a picnic in Paris, a gondola ride in Venice, a ferris wheel, a campfire under the stars, and what Bumble describes as a “dinosaur valley.” There’s also the option to just blur your background, to, as Webb said, “move away from the reality of where you’re sat at home, and really sort of focus on each other.”
Bumble is also adding video messages, which users can now send with lenses like hearts or effects like fox ears. Notably, it is not including any of the retouching filters that have the tendency to create an idealized (and whitewashed) version of ourselves on social media — and negatively impact self-esteem.
“We’re not offering any sort of beautification or modification on the lenses, and that was intentional,” Webb said. “We want our community to showcase their unfiltered and authentic selves when chatting on our platform.”
The partnership is possible thanks to the “Snap Kit” partnerships program, in which Snap provides partners with access to Snap products. The lenses are part of Snap’s “Camera Kit.” Later this year, Bumble will also integrate Snap’s new “Sticker Kit” into their app, which includes Bitmoji, stickers, and gifs.
Bumble’s use of the Camera Kit seems like a way to bring the dynamic, AR features of social media platforms that users are used to directly into the Bumble ecosystem — without Bumble having to invest in building those tools themselves.
“People on Bumble really found video calling and video notes to be a great way to get to know your match in lieu of meeting them in person,” Ben Schwerin, Snap’s SVP of content and partnerships, said of online dating during the pandemic. “What we said is, hey, we can help add, via Camera Kit, our augmented reality ecosystem system to your camera to make sharing video notes with lenses feel more more personalized, more creative, and more fun to help you express yourself. And that’s something that really resonated with Bumble.”
It also seems like it will be genuinely fun for users in a medium they’re already using — an almost cheeky way of “seeing the world” after a year when dating moved from in person to online.
“It really helps convey that sense of being together, as well as lightens the atmosphere of [a] video call, and definitely provides some talking points as well, given what background members choose,” Webb said.
Bumble thinks its users’ embrace of video dates isn’t going anywhere, either. After introducing video calling two years ago, and seeing its use increase during the pandemic, Bumble said that a December 2020 survey of its users found that “50% of respondents in the U.S. said they prefer their first dates to happen over a video call, rather than in-person.”
Neither Bumble nor Snap think that video dates — even those enhanced with dynamic AR lenses — will replace meeting in person. But in a time when we’re all looking for some connection, a little atmosphere can’t hurt.