QRUSHR HAS NOW CLOSED: check out The Most Cake’s Guide to Online Dating for other tips on lesbian dating
Since its launch three months ago, some 50,000 users have downloaded the Qrushr Girls app and created profiles. Roughly the same as the famous men’s dating app for iPhone, Grindr, it finally brings iPhone-enabled cruising to lesbians. This isn’t a new topic to The Most Cake, Petit Fours discussed the lack of a ‘lesbian Grindr’ back in February of this year. So it’s no surprise that Qrushr Girls reached us eventually. Location-based apps such as foursquare are creeping into the mainstream, Facebook is introducing Facebook Places, and soon we won’t think twice about posting our location to social networking sites. Life, by some is lived online, and well, we gays, we love the internet…
So, what’s the deal with Qrushr then? Aren’t we surprised that Grindr didn’t get there first? I contacted Joel Simikai from Grindr. He professes that the reason they have not yet made a lesbian version of Grindr, is that they want to do it the right way – “we did not want to just release a lesbian version of Grindr as an exact copy of Grindr with the only difference being that it was for lesbians or straight men/women. We do not believe that this would be as effective as creating a new application catered to lesbians or straight men and women.”
So on to Qrushr Girls. They started with a gay men’s version (simply, Qrushr), then duplicated it for women. It’s an iPhone app that uses geolocation to find lesbians – with Qrushr – near you. The result? 300 lesbians in your area in the palm of your hand. Presented in a grid, about one third of users have declined to upload a picture and are thus assigned a generic darkened silhouette. In the age of Facebook, Gaydargirls and dozens of other ways to connect online, it is surprising to me that some of us are still too shy to put a picture of some sort. Part of the reason is that many users log on once and disappear. I asked Helen from the Qrushr team.
“Qrushr Girls is still only 3 months old. Very soon we will be contacting all Qrushr Girl users to ask if they want to stay a user. Some women only want to communicate with very local people so they might have initially stopped using us because the numbers of users wasn’t large in their area. If they logged on now they would probably find a lot more. We will be asking them to try us again.”
The premier geolocation social-networking app for lesbians has been, of course, hindered with teething problems in its Beta version. I’ve spent a few weeks using Qrushr Girls and experienced delayed log-ins, crashes and password recovery problems. I was reassured that ‘Qrushr Girls is just coming out of Beta as we speak, we have a great new update with Apple. We have to wait for Apple to approve it, then everyone will get an even better version.’ Sounds good. Apparently Apple are really slow approving anything with “lesbian” content, thanks to all their anti-porn filters which means genuine stuff gets tied up too.
Qrushr Girls is available as a free app, or for a monthly charge of £2.39 you can download Qrushr Girls Unlimited. With the free version you can see 300 of the nearest users to you, placing a limit on the radar you ‘cast’ if you wish (from 5 miles to 500 miles..). If you see someone you like, say ‘hi’ – though it could be four minutes or four days before they reply. You can add them to your ‘friend list’ and they’ll forever appear on your screen when you log in after that. The main added features you by paying for the ‘Unlimited’ version is that you can search for any user name you like (helpful for missed connections, especially when the app crashes), you can see how many people have viewed your profile (I’m sceptical about this – I’m not sure how functional it is, how could so few have viewed my own?) and lastly you can see the nearest 300 users who are online at any given time.
Is this revolutionary for lesbian-kind? Or just a natural occurring off-shoot of the internet social networking age? I was hoping when interviewing the team from Qrushr/Qrushr Girls that they would offer me some insight into their raison d’être. Recent press from the mainstream media over its competitor Grindr has offered a romantic vision of the dating app’s development, describing it as a liberating step towards ‘a sexual revolution’.
I asked about feedback from users. “We get amazing amounts of feedback” says Helen. “This is probably one of the few projects for lesbians where the technology is used for the lesbian community before the heterosexual community, a lot of women appreciate that. We also get a lot of feedback from countries where is not acceptable to be openly lesbian. We have users in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Iran, Afghanistan etc. – we would probably be their only lesbian outlet. That’s what makes Qrushr Girls worthwhile.”
While I get the feeling that the Qrushr team made the app for commercial reasons rather than any desire for a sexual revolution, this information about the women using Qrushr Girls surprised me. I forget that while I’m saturated by ways to meet women in London that the global reach of this tool could be marvellous in helping women in farflung places to meet one another.
I attempted to coax some information out of Helen about the future of the app. It pitches itself as a ‘lesbian lifestyle in your pocket’. I wanted to know more about how they were attempting to develop this idea. They gave nothing away.
“Now that would be telling! What we have done so far is very complex. It might seem easy on the face of it but Qrushr Girls already makes other developers green with envy. In the future though we have big plans, we want to still keep Qrushr Girls confidential and safe but maybe add easier ways to communicate, maybe add video, live content, more fun!”
Hmm, thanks Helen. Well, there certainly could be more done to integrate it into the ahem, ‘lesbian lifestyle’. They currently provide us with a ‘radio station’ (just streamed dance music) and a link to an Australian lesbian magazine, Bound. There are chat forums too, a gesture to making the app a bit less cruisey but they appear to be mostly empty and are easy to crash. Of course, we are faced with a work in progress, so here’s hoping the socks are pulled up and more interesting features are added.
The most interesting feature of course – is the women using it. While there are some very interesting looking women using the app, some even friends of mine, (hi everyone!), the app is also at times invaded by people posing as lesbians, posting nude, strange pictures of themselves…. ( intrigued? go look for yourself you pervert…) It’s something Qrushr Girls does not encourage. Helen assured me that ‘We take security very seriously on Qrushr Girls. To this end we have 10 moderators constantly ensuring that abuse isn’t happening. We do get the odd man pretending, as soon as we find them we instantly ban their device from ever using Qrushr Girls again. We are also looking at a way of women verifying they are genuine.’
As with any new social networking technology, we will have to wait and see what happens. Its evolution will mostly stem from its users. For the meantime I suggested to Qrushr that they set up a feedback option so we can tell them what we think of its use, and suggest ways in which it can change. With the explosion of smartphones, mobile dating is likely to be the next big thing – so watch this space.
Do you use Qrushr? Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your comments below.
Qrushr Girls is free on iTunes here