Sahail Ashraf posted on 17 August 2022
BeReal has glitches, but it is growing rapidly. What is it, and why is Instagram copying some of it’s features?
If you haven’t heard of BeReal yet, it’s an app that is rapidly growing in popularity. Every day, it sends you a notification asking that you share what you are doing via your camera. You have two minutes to do this, which means you can’t be in a position where you have staged anything (unless you spend your life staging stuff). It’s popular because it is seen as a kind of response to the heavily staged, professional approach to accounts on apps like Instagram and TikTok.
The app now has over 10 million downloads, and is not video-based. Essentially, you are asked to upload a photo, with both your reaction and the image being uploadable through the platform via dual-camera.
This two-way capture means users aren’t able to hide. And the ‘anytime’ aspect (we’re assuming BeReal won’t contact you at three in the morning) means it is truly natural and spontaneous. Friends can all post at the same time so everyone gets an update on what people are doing.
The funny thing is that BeReal was created as a kind of ‘antidote’ to Instagram. This is funny because Instagram has actually begun to introduce elements to its app that are strikingly similar to BeReal.
The first thing Instagram has done is launch a special dual camera mode. This allows you to take a photo of something while also taking a photo of your reaction. It is actually very impressive, and is a great way to show your friends how you are feeling when you are doing something or visiting somewhere.
Except this is exactly what BeReal does. It has a dual camera as part of the UI. And when you look at both apps on two different phones, it’s not easy to immediately spot the difference.
This is another example of how social media seems to work. A new app comes out and the major players (basically Meta) decide to try and imitate the features of the new app that are responsible for its success. Then the major player starts to convert users of the new app into their own app. It’s common behavior, and it just shows how competitive it is as an industry.
That said, TikTok has survived, as an app that was a brand new idea (to an extent) and has weathered the storms of being copied by Instagram, for example.
When it comes to BeReal, there are a couple of problems. Perhaps the biggest one is that the app does glitch and slow down a lot. Because it is small (relatively speaking) it hasn’t been able to overcome the impact of having huge numbers of people online at the same time.
The other problem is a little more complex. Instagram is testing out an option to include a QR code in your posts. This code, when scanned by users, will show the exact location of the person whose post is being viewed. This test therefore apparently allows people to know where you are.
Obviously, Instagram will refine this feature somewhat, because the thought of young people, or anyone for that matter, having their location details shared with strangers does seem a little hard to swallow.
BeReal has avoided this problem by only broadcasting your location to your connections in the app. If you do post publicly, then people who aren’t connected are informed only of your rough location.
We imagine Instagram knows this and will find some way to ensure that user privacy is assured.
Like we said, this is all part of the normal way of doing things in social media. Instagram wants to limit the growth of BeReal as well as poach users and/or retain its own users.
If BeReal manages to overcome its glitching problems, it has a chance to survive just like TikTok did. But that’s a big if. The rewards are considerable, because with all the money Meta has thrown trying to emulate TikTok, TikTok still has a huge and growing audience.
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