Social media trends come and go like the weather. Remember when Snapchat was the biggest thing around? And what about that short period when Yik Yak was on everyone’s phones? TikTok might be basking in the glory now, but a new app, BeReal, is set to steal its spotlight. Ironically, it’s partly thanks to TikTok users sharing their thoughts on BeReal that the app has exploded so quickly. When we last examined BeReal a month ago, it was sitting pretty at #1 on the App Storeand it’s gone from 11th to 7th on the Play Store. However, it’s now caught the eye of Facebook owner Meta, which may spell doom for the app.
What is BeReal?
If you’re not aware of this social media phenomenon, BeReal operates under a straightforward premise. Once a day, the app will notify you to take a photo. It’ll take one from your rear camera and one from your front camera a couple of seconds later. You’ll have a two-minute window to take this photo to encourage candid images. BeReal will then lay your front photo over your rear photo.
Once you’ve taken your photo, you can share it with your friends. You won’t be able to see their posts until the next day and if you miss your two-minute window, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. You can also react to your friend’s posts by sharing a quick selfie attached to their post.
The intent behind these peculiar shooting windows is to encourage people to share moments from their lives that aren’t just hand picked from parties or special dinners or planned events. It’s not the first app to go for the authenticity angle — back in 2016, Casey Neistat of YouTube fame developed an app called Beme that made users take videos with their phones clasped to their chest so that, supposedly, they could stay focused on the moment . CNN bought the app later that year and ultimately shut it down in 2018.
What BeReal had that Beme didn’t have the patience to stick with the format for two years and the user base to show for it. According to a BeReal job posting, the app has over 10 million daily users. The job posting also expresses the company’s aim to increase this number to over 100 million — it’s an ambitious goal, but recent reports peg mid-size social media network Snapchat at about 350 million daily active users.
As Snapchat popularized the concept of communication through disappearing messages, BeReal may be relying on its gimmick purity to get enough people in the door before it aims for commercial partnerships or larger business moves. Clubhouse, an audio-based social app that went live around the same time BeReal, had lots of hype and plenty of activity to back it up, but things have quickly cooled down — it’s now experimenting with new features to make the platform itself interesting enough to be on. The novelty of BeReal is strong and still fresh, but once the surge of interest from TikTok has died down, it’ll need to learn to stand on its own feet and fend off the predations of competitors.
Will Instagram go “Candid?”
Meta isn’t one to shy away from ripping features off of other apps and it’s quickly jumping onto the BeReal bandwagon. Meta appears to be working on a feature called “Candid Challenges” for Instagram. Discovered by self-described reverse engineer Allessandro Palluzzi, users would be notified once a day to take and share a “candid.” It even copies BeReal right down to the last detail, giving users just two minutes to take the candid.
An Instagram spokesperson informed Engadget that the feature was an “internal prototype” and with no users testing the feature. Still, we’ll eat our phones if we don’t see this announced soon in an Instagram update.
While Meta has been the only company confirmed to be working on a BeReal clone, it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw Twitter or TikTok take a crack as well. Twitter, specifically, might see BeReal candid shots a fit for the micro-blogging nature of its platform, but considering its disastrous attempt at copying Snapchat’s stories and the ongoing buyout drama with Elon Muskit’ll need to tread carefully.
Despite BeReal’s popularity, it faces an uncertain future. Will it end up being swallowed by Meta as have many other successful startups that even vaguely have a conflicting interest with its existing properties? Or will it fail to innovate like Clubhouse did and die off after its 15 minutes in the spotlight? It might be a welcome change to the airbrushed faces and saturated filters from Instagram, but BeReal might just end up being a little too real for his own good.
If you’re interested in BeReal, download it from the Play Store. Just make sure you know how to take a selfie before you begin; you’ll only get one shot a day.