FriendsTonight starts with a simple premise: “my friends + your friends = a great night.”
The iPhone app sets up groups of friends who don’t know each other, with the goal of getting them to hang out immediately. It’s like Tinder for friend groups, but with matches that disappear at the end of the night — you aren’t allowed to let a match just sit in the app, indefinitely unattended.
FriendsTonight’s interface will be familiar to anyone who has used Tinder or one of its many clones. Once you create your group — for example, “3 guys,” or “4 guys and girls” — and fill out a few basic bits of information, you are presented with the classic stream of “swipe left or right.” Other friend groups appear on your screen and you swipe left if you don’t want to hang out with them tonight, right if you do.
And just like Tinder, if you both groups swipe “yes,” you can start chatting and making plans. The catch is that these matches disappear at the end of the night, which makes sense given that a specific group of people is unlikely to hang out together every night. So matching two groups has to happen fast, or it has to be scheduled with everyone’s calendars in advance.
FriendsTonight, while it bills itself as an app for friendship, clearly has a strong “group date” component. It seems to be aiming at the market of people who are sitting around drinking at someone’s apartment and suddenly think, shoot, “We should hang out with some guys/girls tonight.”
That can be complicated, but FriendsTonight makes it easy – or it least it tries to. And there is an element of spontaneity in FriendsTonight that is absent from group dating services like Grouper. The only problem might be the depression that sets in when your group is sitting around, swiping like crazy, and no one wants to hang out. Of course, you could always just go to a bar.