BeReal logo and notification.

New social media apps seem to pop up every week, but many don’t last long. Thanks to a fresh, simple concept, BeReal has gained enough popularity to make much bigger social media apps pay attention. What makes it so special?

First launched in 2020, BeReal was developed by Alexis Barreyat, a former employee of GoPro. However, it didn’t start catching on until early 2022. As of August 2022, it has over 10 million active daily users. Let’s take a look at why people like it so much.

How Does BeReal Work?

BeReal is a social media app for iPhone and Android that’s focused on authenticity. The way that happens is through sharing photos, but it’s very different than other photo-sharing apps, such as Instagram.

Once per day, there is a two-minute window to post a photo. BeReal notifies all users at the same time when this window opens up, and it’s a different time every day. You don’t have to post every day, and you can post outside of the window, but your post is labeled by how late it was.

The other thing that makes BeReal interesting is how you take a photo. It uses the front and rear cameras on your phone to show your environment and yourself. Each BeReal features the person’s POV and a small selfie in the corner. There are no hashtags, and most people don’t add captions, but you can add your location if you choose.

BeReal images.

Since authenticity is the goal, there are no filters or editing tools for the photos. You simply snap a photo with the rear camera, the front camera, and post it. You do have the ability to retake photos and delete posts, but that’s it.

Engaging with BeReals from other users is very simple as well. You get five “RealMojis”—which are just standard emojis—to react with, or you can create your own “Instant RealMoji” by attaching a small selfie.

Speaking of other users, the BeReal app is organized into two sections—“My Friends” and “Discovery.” The “My Friends” tab is simply BeReals from people you’ve added as friends, while the “Discovery” tab is essentially a live feed of public BeReals. Posts can be shared publicly or only with your friends.

Here Come the Copycats

Instagram and Snapchat dual camera.
Dual Camera mode on Instagram and Snapchat.

The popularity of BeReal has not gone unnoticed by rival social media apps. We’ve seen “Stories” pop up on numerous social media apps, and everyone wants to copy TikTok too. BeReal is the next target.

As of August 2022, both Instagram and Snapchat have adopted BeReal’s dual-camera feature. In fairness, that feature alone is not a new idea. A trendy iPhone app called “Frontback” had the same dual-camera concept back in 2013. However, the timing makes it an obvious response to BeReal.

Instagram is working on taking it a step further with a feature called “IG Candid Challenges.” It’s basically a blatant rip-off of BeReal—prompting users to post once a day within a two-minute window. How original.

Is it even possible to copy BeReal? It’s clearly not about the simple concept of taking front and rear photos at the same time. And since those other platforms already offer so many ways to share photos and videos, what makes a daily photo special? BeReal is hyper focused in a way that Instagram and Snapchat simply can’t be.

RELATED: What Are "Stories," and Why Does Every Social Network Have Them?

The Authentic Social Network

BeReal tagline.

That’s the story on BeReal. It’s all about being authentic, which is notoriously not what you get on most other social media apps. There are no filters or algorithms designed to suck you in. It’s just you and whatever you’re doing at the moment.

The trick for BeReal will be maintaining its simplicity. Instagram and Snapchat also started with very simple concepts, but they’ve continued to add more and more features over the years. Can BeReal avoid the temptation of feature creep? Only time will tell.

For now, BeReal is a fun way to share your life and see what your friends are up to without all the extra stuff that has made social media feel like a chore.

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Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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