Originally posted on slashgear.
We were right — BeReal is, indeed, the “next trending app.” The app started out very small but is now steadily growing in popularity, with more and more people deciding to give it a try. If you’re not on BeReal just yet, the quick summary of the app is that it’s a bit of an alternative to the various forms of social media that we’ve all grown used to. Simply put, BeReal takes a different approach by encouraging its users to share real snippets of their actual lives. Is that why it’s currently blowing up?
BeReal is, on the surface, a very simple app with a strong message. As quoted by The Verge, a quick list of facts about the app, prepared by its creators, states: “If you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok or Instagram.” The message is clear: BeReal is supposed to be a way in which users can interact with their friends — and only their friends — instead of the internet at large.
The app sends prompts to all of its users at a random time each day. Two minutes after you receive the notification, you’ll be given the chance to take a photo that best displays what you’re up to at the time. The photo is taken with the front and back camera simultaneously, meaning your friends will see your face and what’s in front of you. This can result in all kinds of images, ranging from a cat curled up in its owner’s lap to a hike out in nature. However, as The Verge notes, a lot of the time it’s just mundane daily life, be it at home or at work. Despite the simplicity, BeReal is converting new users on a daily basis.
BeReal removes some of the pressure caused by other social media
The rise of BeReal seems like more than just another internet fad. One might call it an indirect commentary on the state of social media as a whole, and the way many young people are now approaching it. Let’s face it — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and other similar platforms all have a culture that encourages maintaining a certain image of yourself. Filled with influencers, these platforms can sometimes make us feel inferior if we feel like we don’t match up to the standards set by the people we follow.
Be it regular people or celebrities, users tend to upload highly curated content to their social media platforms, sometimes creating an image that may make others believe their lives are perfect. This, in turn, can result in lower self-esteem. One study says that just an hour spent on Facebook each day majorly affects one’s self-esteem in a negative way, for example. BeReal tries to keep things casual while also keeping things exclusive to your circle of friends. Only friends can see what you post, and you can only see what your friends posted on any given day if you upload a photo of your own. While you can still upload outside of the 2-minute deadline, everyone will know you didn’t do it immediately.
The 2-minute countdown is what makes BeReal stand out. If you want to snap a quick photo, you don’t have time to change into your best outfit and try a hundred different angles to make sure you look perfect. The imperfection of reality is the goal here, and it seems that many users are drawn to just that.
The real challenge lies ahead
When we first reported on BeReal in April 2022, the app already had a growing following. Since then, these numbers have only gone up. To no one’s surprise, word about the app has spread through other social media, such as TikTok and Twitter. According to AppFigures, BeReal is currently the top free app on iOS in the United States. The Verge cites a market research firm called Sensor Tower that reports over 20 million downloads for the seemingly simple app, while Adam Blacker of Apptopia shared a higher figure on Twitter, estimating 29.5 million lifetime downloads and a whopping 333,000 downloads just on July 17, 2022.
Other than offering an escape from TikTok and the like, BeReal has other things to recommend it. Ryan Broderick compared it to Wordle, saying that it “offers a brief shared online experience among a very fractured social web.” The parallels are certainly there — users are all drawn to the app once a day at the same time and then are able to go back to their daily lives. The same cannot be said about Instagram and TikTok, both of which can be scrolled through endlessly.
While BeReal seems like a breath of fresh air in the curated world of social media, it’s not perfect. The Verge’s Casey Newton notes that most of his friends post late, and after seeing everyone’s posts a few times, it grows a little mundane. After all, most of us are spending our lives either working or studying, so the surroundings remain the same. BeReal managed to capture a lot of users, but now, the challenge is even tougher — retaining those users as the app grows dull and many go back to their previous favorites.