Anyone who's ever tried online dating, especially while female, is no doubt aware of what a giant bin fire it can be. Lots of apps have tried to fix the disconnect between men's and women's experiences (men tend not to get many messages, while women get horrible sleazy ones and dick pics), with apps like Bumble having women make the first move and similar. But a new app's gone even further, making women completely anonymous while men have profiles.
Called 'Pickable', the free iOS and Android app promises "dating without drama for women." It's pretty much instant signup for us: there's no info to input, you just have to hook up your phone number "to prove you're a real person", then give location access so it can find people near you.
Men, on the other hand, provide a photo and a description, although the description is optional and we found 99% of the men we looked through weren't using it. Which gave us exactly one photo to go off, and zero information. Sometimes it wasn't even clear which of the multiple people in the single photo was the one we'd be talking to.
Men can't like women, the woman has to make the first move. This is to reduce all the creepy spam women get on dating sites, which is good, but we're not sure Pickable has got the mechanism quite right here:
"To ‘pick’ a guy, the woman must first send him a personal and private photo that only he will see. Women are invisible to anyone on the app since they don't have a profile or a picture. Therefore, neither their exes, nor their friends, colleagues or bosses can see them.
Men cannot browse. They wait and relax until they receive a photo and chat request. Guys have the option to accept and chat, or skip and move on. The Pickable model aims to cut back lengthy online chats and take dating into the real world much faster than other apps."
If a woman likes the look of a man, and it is literally the look of them in that one photo for most of the users so far, they can 'like' them, which requires sending a photo. However, while it's meant to be a picture of you (the woman in the video takes a selfie while out running), you can use your gallery to send older/downloaded photos, and there's nothing checking there's even a face in the picture you send. We sent a photo of a Christmas card with no people in it and that went through fine.
If it's not obvious already what the problem is here, let us spell it out: CATFISH CENTRAL.
There's no verification whatsoever other than linking to your phone number, which tells them nothing. There's no social media link, so they only have your word for it that you're a woman or a man – inevitably catfish will sign up as women and send photos they nicked off the internet.
And pranksters will sign up (it takes literally seconds, so there's not much barrier to shenanigans) and spam people with dickpics and gore and whatever else they feel like sending, because there don't appear to be any image checks in place. You can report people, but that's not much help when you've already seen the horrifying photo they sent, is it?
Once you've sent your photo, the man can accept or refuse it (so men do get SOME agency here, which is nice). If they accept, then you can talk to each other, and either party can speak first.
In theory, this gets you to meet up quicker in the real world. To that end, the Pickable Facebook page has some concerning messages like this one:
Really? In what world does that seem like a good idea? For an app that claims to be all about safeguarding the woman's privacy, getting her to meet up offline with some completely unverified "man" on the basis of one photo, potentially no info and a short chat seems bananas.
I mean, it's very trusting, but that's the last thing you want to be with online dating.
Here's CEO Tamara Goldstein's explanation of why this whole thing is actually a totally great idea:
"Dating in 2018 can be a minefield. The simplicity and speed of Pickable means more time can be spent going out and meeting people, with less time spent exchanging messages online. Women are often reluctant to date online for fear of being seen by friends, colleagues or family.
I’ve experienced this so much over the years, and I think that women shouldn’t have to choose between dating online and maintaining privacy. Pickable offers that control and peace of mind for women; and for men, they skip the endless swiping and cut to the chase."
Yeah, no. Getting women to skip putting their info in the app and potentially be seen by their boss is so very secondary to meeting up with totally unverified dudes alone in the real world. Come on. There's a reason other dating apps make you link your social media, because otherwise it's just catfish and scammers and weirdos and bots, on both sides.
Also, when you choose your gender, the app assumes you're straight. If you're a woman, you're looking for men, and if you're a man you're looking for women. You're not allowed to be bi or gay or anything else. This is addressed in a small bit of text at the bottom of the menu, which says "to our LGBTIQ friends: don't worry, we are working on a #LGBTIQ only app." Oh great, thanks. Nothing like a literally separate app to make people feel 'othered'. Also, how does that work for bisexual people? Bi people date straight people all the time, and there are a lot more of them, so an LGBT-only app severely limits their options.
Oh and there's no indication of age anywhere, so good luck if you're not a twentysomething and would like to actually check people will be at a similar life stage, or aren't using 10-year-old photos.
In short, NONE of this has been thought through and we are unimpressed.
Do you agree? Would you join Pickable? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.