Last updated on 2019-03-24
As an addition to the Tinder Gold plan, Tinder recently launched their new feature Top Picks worldwide. Of course, they make grand claims about how this will improve your swiping experience, but does Tinder Picks offer anything worth paying for? More to the point, will this make Tinder Gold worth the cost?
Now that we’ve had some time to play around with it, it’s time to see if the promises hold up.
How does it work?
You’ve probably already noticed the new slider atop your swipe deck, allowing you to switch between normal mode and “Top Picks”. As a free user, you can swipe on one of the profiles in the grid, after which the app will prompt you to buy a Gold subscription if you try to swipe further. If you have Gold, you can swipe on all nine clearly visible profiles. Once you reach the faded out ones, you’ll be prompted to buy more picks, at $3 per pack of 10 (or $4 per 20).
Simple enough, but what do you get for your money? Are super likes free for picks? Are these suggested matches “better” than your regular queue? Do they have a much higher elo score than you, so you would otherwise not see them? Do you have a better chance of matching with them? No, not noticeably. Well then…
What is the point of Tinder’s Top Picks? What is it supposed to do for you?
According to Tinder, Top Picks will make your life easier by offering a selection of profiles “picked just for you”, so you don’t have to waste your time swiping on randos. The implication being that these people are the best fits for you according to Tinder’s algorithm; That they had analyzed your swiping behavior and picked the best matches for you according to your taste. If true, that would mean you could set your fear of missing out aside and reduce your swiping to just these few curated profiles, because looking at others in your normal queue would just be a waste of time.
When the blog post announcing the feature first came out, this implication was a lot more explicit. I believe they ended with something along the lines of “Do we know you better than you know yourself?”. They have since changed the wording, backpedaling quite a bit. I wonder why? Personal recollection. May be flawed.
Another supposed benefit is that Picks highlights special attributes of your matches-to-be right in grid view (“showing you what makes your Picks swipe-worthy at a glance”), so you don’t even need to waste time reading profiles.
How does “Picks” pick profiles for you? What does its algorithm actually do?
The notion that these profiles were selected especially for you, according to your tastes, or that they would be especially good fits for you according to the algorithm quickly fades when you log in to your freshly made Tinder account and check “Picks” to see a gallery of profiles already waiting for you before you even made your first swipe.
Seeing as this is not OkCupid, and we don’t fill out personality profiles, the only information Tinder has to work with is on whom you usually swipe right, on what other profiles people who also swipe right on that one usually swipe right as well, and the information contained in those profiles’ bios.
That sounds complex enough to at least get some hits on your personal taste, but the theory goes right out the window when there are already suggestions for new members.
So what are these picks actually based on? My best guess: Absolutely nothing. At least nothing tailored to you. They may be relatively popular profiles who have shown a higher than usual right swipe rate, increasing your chances to match with them, which would make you a happy (returning) customer. Or they may be completely random. We do not know, but considering this next part, I highly doubt it’s anything sophisticated.
Update: In a bit of an indictment of those systems, it appears Tinder is using Amazon’s AWS image recognition software in conjunction with text recognition software to come up with these picks.
But what about these “Highlights”? Do they at least offer some valuable info?
Supposedly, the golden catchwords on the profiles such as “Doctor”, “Adventurer”, “Creative” make the search easier for you if that’s what (or all) you look for in a match. In practice, the results are involuntarily hilarious:
Of course, this doesn’t come as a shock, when you consider where they can draw that information from. What’s shocking to me is that someone decided this was good enough and should be pushed to the public. Which brings us to the answer of the titular question:
Is Tinder Picks worth paying for?
That would be a resounding NO, from me. Tinder Picks adds nothing of value over the standard (free) swiping experience. If you already have Gold anyway, sure you can give in to curiosity and go see your daily picks. Maybe you’ll have a laugh. But if you were considering getting Gold just for this, you may want to reconsider. And if you were considering buying additional packs of picks, I may have a bridge to sell you (the contact form is in the footer).
And what do you think? Do I have it all wrong? Do you have something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below, or visit the SwipeHelper Subreddit. See you there