You could walk to lunch three blocks from the office, and someone else dining at the same fast-casual restaurant — or one next door — might pop up. Or you could have just walked by his office on the way, and that would also count as “crossing paths.” As I stand here and type, the app is open, and new profiles pop up.
Once you click on someone’s face, you can scroll through a handful of photos, Tinder-style, and click yes or no. Each profile also shows a map of the general area where you crossed paths and the time it happ(e)ned. If you both click yes, a screen pops up so you can exchange messages, and theoretically make plans to cross paths on purpose.
In a twist on the Tinder/Hinge model of allowing users to interact only if they’ve mutually chosen each other, you can also send people “charms,” to encourage them to take a second look: the online-dating version of a Facebook poke. The app never shows more than a 250-meter (820-foot) radius, says Marie Cosnard, a spokeswoman for Paris-based happn.
The app might be best-suited for globetrotters. According to the company, its top five cities in terms of numbers of users are: London, Paris, Sao Paulo, New York and Buenos Aires.
The concept feels more organic than sitting at home browsing through OkCupid profiles, but it’s also a little creepy. Because, uh, if we cross paths at midnight and I’m on my couch, you now know where I live before we’ve even said hello. Gulp.
Of course, if you have the app turned off, or the geo-location on your smartphone is disabled, you won’t have this problem, Cosnard says. But who remembers to keep tabs on all their apps on an hourly basis? I sure don’t.
The app’s stalker tendencies aside, I’m all for dating by proximity. However, wouldn’t it be easier to, you know, make eye contact and say hello the old-fashioned way?
In fact, one of the local profiles I happened across included a photo of this quote: “You know what’s sexy? A real conversation.” What a concept.
When it comes to connecting with people you might not recognize in real life, but clearly have some things in common — a gym, a commute, a favorite lunch spot — it might be that nudge you need to actually meet up in real life.
The friend who told me about happn, a 31-year-old woman in Washington, has been on the app for about two months but no dates have come from it. She has mixed feelings about the whole experience: First she emphatically says she isn’t charmed by the app, but then follows up with: “I do think it’s cool. You crossed paths with this person 26 times!” she exclaims.
And yes, the app keeps track of how many times your orbits have intersected. Cool it, stalker.
“Obviously we live in the same neighborhood,” she says. “I should look this person up when we hang up.”
And that’s how I would sum it up, too: Pretty creepy, but also kind of cool.
On a scale of zero (not a match) to five (soulmate status), happn gets a 2.