In Shoreditch, where happn reports high traffic, my timeline goes into overdrive.
“I have seen so many hot guys today that I wish I had been on happn,” tweeted one user. Now there’s an altogether simpler, more instant way to meet people, based on GPS technology in your smartphone. All you have to do is supply the skimpiest of personal information (and your Facebook network), upload a picture or two, and – bingo! Designed to facilitate what one French magazine racily refers to as des rencontres fugaces (fleeting encounters), happn operates within a radius of 250m, which is good news if you live in the capital, bad if it’s the Brecon Beacons.If you fancy the person, you click on a small red heart (known as a Like).If the feeling’s mutual the app announces “It’s a crush” and you can start messaging each other.Why a country that invented champagne, bikinis and Chanel should need it is anybody’s guess but Londoners in their 20s and 30s (and occasionally 40s) are lapping up happn’s English language version and the app is already planning a similar conquest of Berlin.“In London people are so busy running for the bus,” says happn’s Marie Cosnard.With extreme politeness – for Parisians are as rude as they’re polite – he asked if he could join me at my table.This was not the start of a love story, but one of those flirtatious, faintly louche exchanges for which Paris is famous.I’m told happn attracts a classier kind of lonely heart so I head to Whole Foods Market on Kensington High Street where the beautiful ones buy their coconut juice.With i Phone in hand I flick my finger down the list of female photos to see who’s within the 250m radius covered by the app.“They don’t have time to look at other people.” Happn’s premise is that our lives are filled with “near misses”. When you cross paths with a fellow user, wherever you are, their profile photo pops up on your phone.That dream partner could be anybody in your vicinity – the craggy TV cameraman picking out an avocado at Tesco while you inspect the asparagus, the pretty lawyer sitting opposite you on the Tube to work. “The app is meant for shy people,” says Cosnard, who tells me she’s heard about people falling in love via happn. If you click on it a small map comes up showing (roughly) where your paths crossed, along with their (scant) personal details (generally just their first name, age and profession).