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WhosHere adds video and Android to its arsenal

June 05, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • The social discovery service WhosHere recently updated its iOS app and expanded to Android.
The social discovery service WhosHere recently updated its iOS app and… (WhosHere )

WhosHere, a smartphone app that lets you meet and chat with people nearby, now lets you do it over video -- and over an Android phone.

Just a couple weeks after adding video chat to its iOS app, the company expanded Tuesday into Amazon's Appstore and Google Play for use on smartphones and tablets.

“The new video chat feature takes this up a notch by allowing people to naturally progress through their virtual connections -- starting with a chat, a call and then actually seeing each other via video -- without the pressure of giving out your phone number or email address," said Bryant Harris, co-founder and chief executive. "Browsing through static, boring profiles on dating sites is so passe -- this is the future -- and it works."

Even though you put yourself out there, so speak, to meet others, you're not putting it all out there, the cofounders said. The matches made here are mutual, based on criteria each user sets out. As the tagline on the WhosHere site says, "take the chance out of the chance encounter."

Harris said the approach to maintaining more anonymity than most online dating experiences "came out of really thinking out safety concerns. We didn't want people to see people who couldn't see them."

As for the addition of video, Harris said it adds another element to help you get to know the person on the other end a bit better. "You get such a different vibe on them when you see them in their environment and facial expressions."

The app came about because Harris fell in love with the first iPhone in 2007. (And then later, he fell in love over his iPhone. More later on that.) He told The Times he remembered sitting in a bar thinking it would be cool to use the phone to connect with folks around him to see if they had anything in common. And while you're not going to lug your desktop to the bar, the iPhone offered a perfect platform for social discovery on the go.

And Harris didn't just found the company. He found his mate on WhosHere as well, and they recently welcomed their first child.

When they met, though, Harris said he tried everything not to pick up on her. "In some ways, I'm sort of like the bartender on the app," that is, trying not to flirt, not commenting on her appearance and definitely not asking her for a date. While it doesn't sound like much of a winning strategy, "we just genuinely enjoyed each other."

The app boasts more than 5 million users who have sent an average of 34 messages. So far, the WhosHere network has transmitted more than 8 billion messages among its chatty users.

The app is used in 150 countries and counting. America isn't WhosHere's biggest market; it's the second. The largest market is the Persian Gulf, according to Steven Smith, WhosHere cofounder and chief operating officer.

The free app allows chats within your national borders, but you can buy "plane tickets" to go international with your chats.

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