Dating Apps Have Extended Into Virtual Bedtime Companionship Due to COVID, Loneliness – Newsweek

Online dating apps are no longer just places to find love and in-person companionship. Nowadays, people are using them so they can fall asleep.

That’s at least the case in Taiwan as multiple dating apps have been developed to literally provide company for people as they close their eyes for the night.

Until recently one such app called PlayOne provided online communication for gaming and other purposes. Then, developers added a rather unique option titled “Calling to sleep.”

It’s just as you would expect. Well, almost. Users who use this option choose characteristics they desire in a virtual companion—namely, that the person on the other phone will be there when it’s time to go to sleep. Users can select the type of voice they seek, as well as appearance traits.

There is a catch: Some app users are paying bedtime companions to help soothe them to sleep. One male who said he helps others fall asleep said he charged $13 per hour for his services, according to Worldcrunch.

It’s part of a growing trend across Taiwan that has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased feelings of loneliness. When a feeling of being alone is coupled with the millions already plagued by sleep disorders, this pattern is not all that surprising.

PlayOne’s call-to-sleep option has become quite popular among its users, who have made repeated requests to have someone on the other line as they close their eyes. Some have reportedly requested that the companion voice continue even after sleep has been achieved. Others have expressed a lack of care for draining phone batteries.

Ken-Han Huang, founder of the dating app Goodnight, has implemented similar services on his platform and it’s paying dividends. Between 40-60 million minutes have been spent using the call-to-sleep feature, he told Worldcrunch.

Social distancing has changed the dating game, developers said, and perhaps for good. It’s not enough just seeing photos of potential mates, or of those we want to help us fall asleep.

The Verge reported that 13 percent of new users on Hinge, the popular dating platform, have built their profiles with a voice prompt while 46 percent of users have listened to at least one voice prompt. Hinge debuted the feature in October.

“If you imagine the amount of extra time that it takes to add any piece of information to your profile, it’s already a friction point,” Hinge CPO Michelle Parsons told The Verge. “So we’re really excited with this, and our plans are to continue to help users see the value, and things like them going viral on TikTok has definitely been very helpful for us here.”

Some dating apps are taking companionship to the next level, offering online sleeping and cuddling buddies in the wake of COVID restrictions and isolation. Between 40-60 million minutes have been spent using the call-to-sleep feature, according to one such app.


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