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How Down made good: The former Bang With Friends is growing more legit

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The dating app Down used to be known as Bang With Friends, the app for picking Facebook friends to potentially get sexy with. Bang With Friends was too racy for the App Store, and rebranded itself last year as a more mature, less explicitly hoookup driven dating app. Since then, Tinder has double-underlined its title as the most hyped and popular hookup app (cofounder Justin Mateen recently told the Guardian it makes 6 million matches a day).

Down hasn’t achieved the same zeitgeisty status—it has 1.5 million users, so it operates on a much smaller scale—but the app’s rebranding has been a quiet success. At Social Media Week, founder Colin Hodge revealed that Down’s matchup rate is on the up and up, with over half of the couples matched up choosing to meet offline.

"We've focused on creating real matches that create IRL experiences, not just burnt matches like other apps. In fact, we obsess about it. Our user research continues to show that more than half of couples who get down with our app actually meet up in real life,” a Down spokesperson told the Daily Dot. “What's even better is that of our members who match via our "get date" choice, about 3/4 of them meet up, and 75% of those daters indicate they will be going on additional dates with their match."

And once they start dating, they often keep dating (and do so fairly traditionally): “When it comes to first date spots our users stuck with the classics. 31 percent met for coffee and 26 percent met their date at a bar. Only 3 percent opted to meet over dinner. Over 90 percent of these same restaurant goers (as of 2/16/2014) are still dating,” the spokesperson said.

So what started as a goofy, bawdy hookup app has turned into a service with users that actually want to create sustained relationships with each other, at least of the two-date variety. Tinder boasts 600 million matches a day, but how many of those are just some guy swiping right on every woman with a pulse? Down’s appeal, now, is different than it was when it started: instead of just having a goofy time seeing which Facebook friends would potentially boink you, it’s an app that facilitates taking the next step.

Part of why Tinder’s so popular is that it gamifies dating and a lot of people on there are just browsing through the profiles of acquaintances and playing a sort of “Hot or Not” game with themselves. And that’s great. But Down, since it is focused on matching people who are already in each other’s real-life orbits, has evolved past that whole snap-judgment looks-grading element of online dating, because the people who match up already know each other.

In this way, the dating app Hinge resembles Down. Since Down's relaunch, it shows users' friends-of-friends, just like Hinge. But Hinge is basically Tinder that only shows you people with mutual friends, while Down's vibe is more oriented towards meeting people you're already friendly with. 

This means there’s likely already a romantic interest before they select that they’re interested. This means the people using Down probably have a crush on one of their Facebook friends. And that means Down is turning into a sweet little app to help secret crushes connect (and, you know, get freaky all night). It’s an interesting example of how a social app can evolve into something better than its original purpose. And it’s not going to gain the popularity that Tinder has precisely because the dating pool is so narrow, but it had to be turned into a more romantic app.

Of course, it still has some freaky-deeky in its DNA, which is probably why one user listed "the driveway" as the "get down" spot for his date because they couldn't wait to get inside. 

Photo via Flickr/Ali Nishan