Anna Maria Moubayed
Civil engineering graduate Reza Khonsari and fourth-year mechanical engineering student James Heaney, founders of the Ryerson community-only dating app RU Mine, recently added new features to the app to help people connect with friends and classmates.
RU Mine was originally launched in March 2020. On Jan. 3, the app introduced a new feature allowing users to find friends with similar interests, as opposed to romantic matches.
In addition, RU Mine implemented “The Community Update” on Jan. 25, which includes course groups and chat features.
According to Heaney the entire update package is called RU Friends.
The group feature is a timeline where users can make posts and comments. The chat feature allows users to form groups with friends or like-minded individuals for classes or extracurricular activities, said Khonsari.
The feature allows users to search and find people in the same courses and form group chats with them.
“Everything is online and a lot of first-year students haven’t really met their peers yet,” said Khonsari. “It’s a very good way for them to be able to meet and, at the same time, being able to talk to their classmates and connect with them.”
The app, including RU Mine, RU Friends and the group chats, averages about 1,200 to 1,500 messages each day. This indicates a successful launch as new updates have brought more people to the app and have been successful at keeping users engaged, said Heaney.
“Reception has been very good for RU Friends. I think [RU Friends] is probably our biggest feature in terms of reception so far, but I think groups and group chats have a lot of potential in the coming weeks,” he said.
The developers said they plan on including new additions to the course group chat feature, such as picture messaging and uploading files to help with homework problems.
“Everything is online and a lot of first-year students haven’t really met their peers yet”
Haig Artounian, a first-year new media student, said the course-based group chats prevent students from getting distracted by unrelated posts on other social media platforms.
“The group chat feature, in particular, is a good addition because a lot of people don’t want to use Instagram or Snapchat for university work and school work,” said Artounian. “Having a separate app that you can make your specific university work app might help.”
Artounian said he finds it difficult to meet classmates and other Ryerson students since classes are online.
“You have no way of meeting anyone, so the features would help with that aspect, because socializing is a very important part of everyone’s lives,” said Artounian. “I think the socialization aspect of it will really be helpful.”
Heaney added that the app aims to help Ryerson students connect and interact with each other while complying with stay-at-home orders.
It is difficult to replace face-to-face socialization, said Heaney. “But I think this helps chip away at it because it allows you to connect with classmates that you are unable to meet given the circumstances.”
The new features of the app will assist students in finding new friends even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted, said Khonsari. As a commuter school located in the heart of downtown Toronto, many Ryerson students typically don’t have time to socialize after class, attend events or engage in extracurricular activities.
“The usage might go up a lot more when we’re back in person because a lot of students will go through it to be able to share what’s happening on campus with others at the same time,” said Khonsari.