Life as an Android-carrying tech blogger can be a bit of a bummer. Even when a cool app finally does launch on my OS of choice, it’s usually just a jankier version of the existing iPhone app. A pitiful second-class consolidation prize offered with the expectation I’ll drool all over it in excitement. “You’re welcome,” the developers seem to sneer.
That’s why Google earlier this year launched its design guidelines with the goal of improving the quality of apps in its marketplace and encouraging developers to take pride in making them elegant and intuitive.
Right around that time Brooklyn-based dating site HowAboutWe was all set to build its Android app as a re-skin of its iPhone app. Upon seeing the design guidelines, the company threw out its plans and decided to do Android right, building its new app as closely to Google’s specifications as it could.
The result is one of the better-looking Android apps I’ve used, replacing the OS-centric top navigation bar with a few trademark elements, an inbox modeled exactly off of the new Android tabs, and full message text in alerts. “We’re trying to build a best-in-class example of an Android app,” co-CEO and head of product Aaron Schildkrout says.
Since going live in the Android store this weekend, thousands of people have downloaded it each day, Schildkrout says, and their engagement has been encouragingly high. On Saturday, a many users opened the app 15 times or more. New users get a free seven-day trial to the service, which costs $19.99 per month.
I diligently checked out it out even though I’m not single, and was immediately reminded of just how a small a city New York is. Cheaters beware — the first message I got was from a friend-of-a-friend wondering what had happened to my current relationship. Here’s hoping Howaboutwe Couples launches an Android app soon. They’ll have a leg up, as other couple-y apps, like Pair, Weesh and Kahnoodle are still not on Android.
HowAboutWe’s dating service is particularly suited to a mobile app experience. The whole premise of the site is that users suggest a date they’re interested in. The goal is to to take the emphasis away from the dreaded profile, and tendency to obsess over perfecting it to portray the exact best possible version of yourself. You’ll never know if there’s chemistry until you meet someone and they get to know the real you anyways, so HowAboutWe encourages users to do that before investing time and energy into online flirting. They typically suggest dates at specific venues, which plays to the strengths of a location-aware mobile app.
The HowAboutWe strategy also plays into New Yorkers’ strong suits. They’re more direct and spend less time messaging back and forth before meeting someone, according to this little unscientific experiment done by a bagel shop worker. They’re also closer together and more likely to responding to local date ideas from someone nearby.
The company has a few competitors on the mobile front — Blendr and Grindr offer location-based hookups, Scout and Badoo offer mobile experiences but to a “different crowd,” and dating sites like OkCupid and eHarmony still focus on desktop-first experiences, Schildkrout says. “Our goal as a company to build the best mobile dating experience in the world.”
The company has raised $18.1 million in venture funding from ff Venture Capital, MHS Capital, RRE Ventures, Founder Collective, Khosla Ventures, High Line Capital, Launchtime and NYC Seed.