Tuned Out: Meta Scraps App for Couples

Tuned Out: Meta Scraps App for Couples
The couple-based app was quietly released in April 2020. (Image: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

Hey all you sexy young couples, I have bad news. Meta’s relationship-focused communication app Tuned is officially being shut down on September 19. Or, if you’re like me and 1) are single and/or 2) have never heard of this app, September 19 will just be another Monday.

Tuned is a Meta product that was released during the very beginning of the covid-19 pandemic in April 2020, when staying in touch with someone you love was either really easy if you were quarantined with them, or really difficult if you were quarantined without them. While the app’s release towards the beginning of the pandemic is likely coincidence (apps take time to develop), its structure of getting couples to communicate over quirky prompts and a kitschy interface could not have come at a better time. But now, just over two years later, the app is reportedly shutting down on September 19.

I tried to experiment with Tuned to write this article, but upon entering my phone number to sign up, I was greeted with an error message. Perhaps Tuned is no longer accepting new users as it begins winding down its services, and Meta did not immediately return my request for clarification on that. Tuned was developed by Meta’s New Product Experimentation team, who, according to Gadget360, said that the app is “a private space where you and your significant other can just be yourselves. With Tuned, you can be as mushy, quirky, and silly as you are together in person, even when you’re apart.”

Meta appears to be going through a bit of a tough time, and it’s possible that axing Tuned is a part of a wider effort for the company save money and pivot away from social media. Meta has endured recent chatter of a hiring slowdown and impending layoffs: Leaked documents from executives instructed managers to cut underperforming employees under the guise that “they are not who we need,” and Meta employees are now reportedly concerned about a rumoured layoff of up to 10% the company’s workforce. Again, Meta did not immediately return our request for comment on whether or not shutting down Tuned is a cost-saving move.

Meta is also making a clear effort to distance itself from its “Facebook” days of social media amidst regulatory pressure and public scrutiny with a hair-brained scheme to rebrand itself into a VR juggernaut. But we all know how the Metaverse is going. What social media efforts the company is preserving aren’t particularly creative, as Instagram and Facebook itself are becoming reanimated clones of popular app TikTok.

Tuned shutting down is likely a bummer for the handful of couples that are still using the gimmicky app two years after it launched, but it could also be a symptom of a larger, internal company restructuring.