Joel Simkhai, the diminutive, Israeli-born founder of Grindr, insisted to me over coffee at a Bloomsbury that the new app, long-referred to as Project Amicus, is not primarily sexual, but social.
And I think he might be right. Here’s how it works: like Grindr, it’s a location-based app. Unlike Grindr, members upload profile information beyond body parts, from languages spoken to colleges attended. Therefore, this is a truly efficient way to meet people who share similar interests and who are actually in the same place as you. At a bar and want a fellow fan of a particular football team? Look on Blendr and find a friend. Sitting in a coffee shop and need help translating a tricky article in French? See if there’s a native French speaker huddling at the next table, also on Blendr.
In an age of multi-dimensional hyper-connectivity, Blendr is the natural but ingenious next step.
What about Facebook Places? Simkhai says that Facebook is about closed networks of friends, while Blendr is about open networks. He’s right.
Perhaps the thing that really makes Blendr a useful social tool – rather than a sexual one – is the check-in to venues, where you can browse how many others are at those venues, and determine whether to venture to the trending hot spot or not. Lest you worried about losing out on other key networks, Blendr allows users to share and update their Blendr activity on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Phew.
Available from today on the iTunes store. Free.