“Out There” is a new dating app that encourages users to “stop swiping and get out there”. Many people have grown tired of swipe-based dating apps and are craving something that feels more direct and similar to meeting people in real life. The Out There dating app can deliver this thanks to a series of innovative and smart features.
What is the Out There Dating App?
Single people are often given dating advice that tells them to just “get out there”. But thanks to a new dating app, being told to “get Out There” takes on a whole new meaning.
The Out There dating app is a refreshing addition to a crowded market. Over the last decade, dating apps have exploded in popularity.
In 2018, ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey revealed a dramatic finding: More than one-third of Australians meet their partner online.
Meeting through friends (21%) and meeting at work (13%) followed in second and third place.
These statistics demonstrate the impact that dating apps have had on our lives in just a short few years. However, while many people manage to meet their partners online, others are not so happy about what dating apps have to offer.
The problems with current dating apps
Since Tinder went mainstream, many other apps have entered the market, promising to disrupt the industry. However, most of these apps were Tinder clones dressed up with slightly tweaked features. Or, when they did offer a genuine alternative, they were far too niche to be of interest to the general population.
Co-Founder and CMO of Out There, Alexandra Cuthbert, was one of the many who felt that existing dating apps didn’t hit the mark. She said that “Dating apps really haven’t evolved since they first launched, and the overly curated and superficial swiping mechanism has become stale,”
Cuthbert noted that “I’ve found with traditional dating apps, I would often connect with people based on physical attraction, and soon realise we had nothing in common. Out There is aiming to put you in the right place, to meet the right person for you based on shared values and interests.”
For Joe Russell, Out There Co-Founder and founder of award-winning app development agency DreamWalk, the problems with these apps were astonishing.
“I couldn’t believe that over the last ten years, finding a compatible life partner had been reduced to a series of superficial swipes and bad dates. Reimagining the whole mobile dating experience was quite a technical undertaking by our lead developer Richard Garner, but I think the results speak for themselves,” he said.
Dating App User Survey
DreamWalk carried out a survey of dating app users to evaluate how people felt about the current state of the market. There were several fascinating findings — some of them quite surprising.
One of the most intriguing findings was that only 1 in 5 women would prefer to meet someone over a dating app. For men, this number was 43%. For women (76%) and men (53%), the overwhelming preference was to meet people in real life.
However, many people suggest that it’s pretty tough to find dates in person these days. There are lots of big and small reasons for this, but the problem has become worse in recent years.
The pandemic was a disaster for people hoping to meet someone without using a dating app. Two years of being locked indoors robbed people of access to the areas where they were more likely to meet people, like work, bars, college, etc. When you’re barely having any interactions at all, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for romance to develop.
Secondly, many people suggest that the very existence of dating apps makes it difficult to meet in person. Some people say that because dating apps offer so much choice, it makes everyone disposable. Others say that the efficiency of online dating means that people aren’t willing to give each other a chance.
This was the context in which Out There was developed. With so many people expressing their dissatisfaction with the dating experience, something needed to be done. And that thing was to try and pull dating apps back from the digital cliff and inject them with a bit more real-life, in-person energy.
How Out There works
The basic concept of Out There is that it encourages people to meet in person. The app achieves this by reducing two of the biggest dating app annoyances: swiping and endless chatting.
Instead, it asks you to fill out a detailed questionnaire that was created by the dating coach Jess Matthews from the Boy Detox. Once you’ve answered the questions, your score can be used to evaluate your compatibility with other users.
However, it’s from this juncture that Out There becomes unlike anything else on the market.
The first place the app has gone live is in the vibrant Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda. The Out There development team have pulled together a selection of some of the city’s coolest venues and hotspots, and they’re turning these areas into a place where couples can meet their future partner.
Some of the “spots” include:
- Music venues
- Wine bars
- Bowling greens
- The historic amusement park Luna Park
Each of these locations gets a score based on the user’s compatibility with the people there. So, for example, when you open the Out There app, you get a list of locations that are sorted by distance and a score that tells you if there are people there you might have a good chance of hitting it off with.
When the user sees a promising spot, they can travel there and check in to the location. Then, they can turn on “Broadcast” mode to see what compatible users are nearby and invite them to come and say “hi”.
Once users have made a successful match, they get three free chat messages to make initial contact and organise an in-venue meetup.
And if you’re worried that you’re not sure what to say, don’t worry. Users set their own icebreakers. So, you’ll always have something to say when you go up to introduce yourself.
What problems does Out There solve?
1. Swipe fatigue
A lot of people are fed up with swiping. Go online, and you can find countless articles that talk about people’s disenchantment with the process of finding a partner on a dating app. Many of these articles talk about “swipe fatigue” or “swiper’s fatigue”.
When people use dating apps too much, they can quickly become discouraged. When dating apps become a chore or overly procedural, it’s time to step back and take stock.
Dating isn’t meant to be a grind. Online dating should be fun, exciting, and spontaneous. Out There helps to bring some of the excitement back into dating.
How does Out There do it?
For starters, there’s no swiping. For many people, this is a very welcome feature. Swiping can encourage people to be overly dismissive of compatible people. Faced with an unending sea of choice, some people swipe endlessly, hoping to find a “perfect” person who probably doesn’t even exist.
Additionally, there is a lot of research out there that suggests that swiping apps is bad for our mental health. Dating sites started out in 1995 with Match.com. For a long time, they were considered a fringe activity. Then, Tinder exploded onto the scene, and almost every app used some form of swiping.
There are a lot of criticisms of swiping. Some people say that places too much emphasis on physical attraction. Others suggest that by forcing users to say yes or no too quickly it:
- Causes users to dismiss suitable potential matches
- Influences some people to match with people they aren’t always interested in to keep them as an option
However, more worryingly, some research by Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney suggests that swiped-based apps can lead to increased rates of distress and depression.
The researchers performed an online survey of 430 people. From there, they studied the impact of swiping on people who use these dating apps and those who do not.
As one of the project’s researchers described in an interview, people using swipe-based dating apps were more likely to be distressed (x 3.5 times) and report depression (x5).
There are a few reasons why swipe-based dating apps provide a negative experience.
It doesn’t feel real.
Swiping presents a picture and a few words on a screen. Faced with endless options, people often choose to just get through it and swipe without really reflecting on the person.
How many times have you met a person and, after a few minutes, found yourself entirely bewitched by them? Maybe it’s their laugh, how they think, or it’s just pheromones. Whatever it is, these intangibles can make all the difference.
Moving to a non-swipe system can give you a better chance to make those connections in person.
They can drain your confidence.
Another study, this time from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, suggests that picture-based dating apps can increase depression and lower self-esteem. Online dating opens people up to a lot of hurt and rejection. Not everyone is equipped to deal with this, and it can make them very self-critical.
App mechanisms that encourage users to swipe through hundreds of faces — judging them instantly — can leave you feeling cold.
Digital vs real life
Another problem with swipe-based apps is that they can’t really capture nuance. For starters, online communication and in-person communication have many differences.
When we like someone, it’s often because of tiny, barely perceptible things. Swiped-based dating apps rob us of the chance to experience these little things that can add up into something bigger. Instead of seeing someone in full colour, dating apps can reduce them down into grey 2D figures.
During the lockdown, many of us couldn’t see friends or family. While messaging apps and Zoom were great ways to stay in touch, think about how much more full, vibrant, and energy giving it was to meet up in person finally.
We can’t always put our fingers on what exactly makes real-life different from digital. But there is something there, and the worry is that we can miss out on that when we rely on swiped-based dating apps.
One of the most interesting parts of online dating to think about is what does an excessive amount of choice do to our brains? With a never-ending amount of profiles to swipe, people can easily become unsatisfied.
Sometimes the more choices that we have, the less satisfied we can become with what we choose. The reason? We’re acutely aware of what we are missing out on.
We can observe this across all aspects of our lives. How many times have you bought a new item of clothing and been super excited to receive it, only to second guess yourself once it arrived?
Well, this can happen with swiped-based apps too. Before, we were most likely to meet someone in our work or friends circle. We weren’t as aware of all the possibilities that were laid out in front of us. And you know, if this new dating situation were making us happier, that would be one thing. But, according to many people who use swipe-based apps, it’s not.
One solution to this is to shrink down the nets that we cast. Instead of setting some 15K radius that takes in almost everyone in the city, the Out There app lets users concentrate on quality over quantity. It shows you where compatible singles are nearby and enables you to go to those spots and see if you can make a connection.
It’s the perfect antidote to people who are exhausted by the struggle of constantly swiping.
2. Boring chat conversations
Another commonly cited reason for having issues with dating apps is that too much time is spent on boring chat conversations. Unfortunately, some people seem to be on dating apps because they want a pen pal or an ego boost. In other cases, the format itself is to blame.
Almost every app uses some variation of the same messaging format. However, it can be a frustrating experience for many users.
For starters, not everyone is great at expressing themselves in text. The tone gets lost, jokes don’t always land, and then there is the pressure. Say the wrong thing, and your match can just vanish. Messaging isn’t always the best way for people to connect.
Another thing to consider is what author and dating coach, Sami Wunder, calls the “text trap”. The text trap is just what it sounds like, being stuck in what feels like an endless exchange of messages that don’t really go anywhere. In fact, as Wunder suggests, getting too far into these exchanges can actually reduce the likelihood of a real-life meeting.
Wunder suggests that the more you message with someone, the more it feels virtual. Her suggestion? Cut to the chase within three to four messages and request a phone call. From there, you should be able to rule out some candidates who aren’t a great match.
The Out There dating app goes even further by encouraging users to make their first steps in person, so you can see if there is any chemistry.
3. Fake or misleading photos
Misleading profile photos are one of the most frustrating aspects of online dating. It’s not uncommon to find that people are using pictures of themselves from 10 years or 20 pounds ago.
It’s hard to say why people do this. Maybe it’s about a lack of confidence in how they currently look? Online dating is pretty superficial after all, and perhaps they’re worried they won’t get any matches by honestly representing themselves.
However, it’s a short-term strategy. The minute they meet up with their match, their tricks are exposed. A lot of people could forgive someone looking a little older or a little less athletic than their photo. However, it’s a real turn-off because misleading photos can signify someone who is not afraid to be dishonest to get what they want.
It can also represent a real waste of time for the person on the receiving end of this behaviour. We all know that we shouldn’t get our hopes up too much over one particular match, but after messaging for a few days, it can happen. Only for the dream to fall apart when we meet.
Out There app reduces the chances of this occurring because the first thing that you meet is the real person. No more misleading photos, no more wasted hours and days and messaging someone based on false information.
4. Compatibility issues
Swipe-based apps tend to push us to focus on the physical aspects of dating. Quite often, people don’t even bother to read a profile picture and match based on looks alone. This situation can create a real problem when it comes to the messaging stage or meeting up in person.
Out There uses a compatibility system devised by Jess Matthews of The Boy Detox. Based on your answers to a set of questions, each user is given scores based on:
While no quiz can ever truly define who you will be compatible with, the Out There system can help you identify some of your deal-breakers. In some ways, this is one of the advantages that online dating has over meeting in real life. By offering up genuine answers about ourselves, we can eliminate people who are a bad match for whatever reason.
5. Dating can be like a full-time job
One of the biggest problems that people have with dating apps is that they take up so much time. The average dating app user spends about 90 minutes a day swiping. That’s just too long.
On top of this, most people are on a lot of different dating apps. Constantly swiping, editing your profile, and writing and replying to messages can take a lot of time.
Cutting down the amount of time you spend on apps opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
The founder of Empact, Micheal Simmons, has written extensively about the 5-hour rule. He suggests that successful people — like Elon Musk and Bill Gates — learn or practice new skills for at least an hour each day when they get home from work.
If the average single person spends 90 mins a day on dating apps, they can definitely reassign 5 hours for self-improvement. The 5-hour rule says that people should spend their time:
And look, we get it, you won’t always feel like learning a new language when you get home, but it does go to show what you can achieve.
Additionally, developing new skills or interests will give you extra things to connect with others over and make you seem more appealing and attractive to potential partners.
One unfortunate part of modern dating is the prevalence of ghosting. The Out There app is set up to eliminate this possibility.
Ghosting happens when you make a match, share a few messages, and then — poof! — the person has unmatched you. This can be a distressing experience for the person who has been ghosted for many reasons — chiefly because they don’t know what they’ve done wrong.
Without reason for why the person decides to unmatch, the mind can wander. For some, this leads to a downward spiral of self-doubt. Out There cuts out this part of the dynamic of online dating.
7. The effects of COVID-19
COVID-19 lockdowns ramped up existing issues with online dating. Bored and stuck at home, many people began to use apps more as a form of entertainment than as a way to genuinely meet people.
The result was more time invested into apps and conversations that never had a chance of going anywhere.
Out There is a solution to these issues. Firstly, it requires users to get off their couches. With lockdown restrictions lifted, people who want to make a connection can check in at the various spots and see who they are compatible with.
From there, if they match with someone, they can approach them and strike up a conversation.
Meeting someone in person can really speed the process along. Instead of messaging someone for a week, only to find out that you don’t have that spark in person, you can figure it out when you first meet.
8. Not knowing who is available
One of the best features of Out There is that it shifts the onus away from the phone and back into the real world. Many single people would love to meet someone the “old way”. Organically connecting with someone has a different feel.
However, one big issue with meeting strangers in real life is that you don’t know their situation. Imagine you are in a bar and you see someone that you like. Approaching them isn’t always easy because you don’t know if they’re available or even looking to meet someone.
Out There’s system is designed to facilitate those conversations, but just without all the messing around of dating apps. Once you broadcast your location at the venue, you can start seeing who is compatible.
If you see that a person is on the Out There app, you know that they are at least open to being approached. This considerably changes the dynamic and can give users confidence that they are not troubling a stranger by trying to strike up a conversation with them.
9. Awkward First Dates
No matter what, there is just no way of knowing for sure if you’ll click with someone until you meet them in person. It’s happened to all of us. You like the look of someone’s picture, their profile makes you chuckle, and you start messaging.
You seem to have a good flow, and their responses are fun and interesting. So you set up some drinks or activities, you get ready, barely able to contain your excitement and then when you meet in person… there’s just nothing there. Chemistry is complicated.
It can be a fairly confusing and defeating feeling. Out There helps reduce these instances by making the in-person stuff happen at the start. When you find a compatible stranger in one of the venues, you can establish whether you have chemistry straight away.
If you’re both interested, you can set up the first date from there. No more awkward first dates!
The Team Behind the App
The Out There dating app is the result of the work of a number of different collaborators.
Joseph Russel, Co-founder and CEO
Joseph Russel is the co-founder of the Out There app. He’s also the co-founder DreamWalk Apps, which is the development company behind Out There. Joseph is a highly accomplished app strategist with over 12 years of experience designing mobile app strategies and user experiences for some of the world’s top brands, including Coca Cola, Porsche, and Toyota.
DreamWalk Apps is an award-winning app development agency in Melbourne and Brisbane with a long history of successful apps, like:
- Jam for iPhone
- Recycle Mate
- Camping Around Australia
- Easy Weddings
- The Secret to Money
As well as regularly writing articles for a variety of well-known networks and publications, Russell was the man behind the dating app survey we quoted from earlier in the article.
This work gave Russell a unique insight into the world of dating applications that he was able to combine with his app design experience to build something that solved problems that existed on the market.
Compatibility quiz and dating tips
Another fun and unique aspect of the Out There dating app is that it’s driven by a compatibility quiz. Many dating app users bemoan the use of mysterious algorithms that decide who you match with on apps.
The big dating companies guard these algorithms so that we can only guess what inputs go into them.
Out There provides a refreshing take by using a compatibility quiz devised by the dating coach, Jess Matthews. Many of you may be already familiar with Matthews from her Instagram, the Boy Detox.
Matthews is a writer and relationship and dating coach. She’s been writing about love, dating, and relationships for years. She has a great deal of experience helping others find love. As a result, she was selected by Out There to formulate the quiz questions that can help users find a compatible partner.
In her role as a dating coach, Jess has heard and seen it all. She knows what will work and what won’t. Her frank, honest, and authentic voice is valued by her fans on Instagram, and now you can benefit from her thoughts and experiences.
Another excellent aspect of the Out There app is that it contains lots of excellent dating tips written by Jess. These practical pieces of wisdom can help improve your dating experience significantly, and they’re all there, ready to go from your phone.
When will Out There be available in my area?
The Out There dating app is currently available in major cities across Australia. However, soon it will be rolled out in other cities around the World.
COVID-19 lockdown measures have understandably delayed the expansion, but in the words of CS Lewis, “all good things in life are worth waiting for”.
For now, the best thing that singles who aren’t based in Australian capital cities can do is sign up to the Out There email list and await further news about the app coming to your town.
What platforms is the Out There dating app available on?
Out There is available on both iOS and Android.
About the Author
Joseph Russell is an award-winning app designer, app strategist and founder of DreamWalk. Over his 11 year career, Joseph has helped hundreds of businesses and startup founders plan, design, develop and launch successful apps.
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