There are those who completely cut themselves off from social networks and those who download BeReal, the French anti-Instagram application that wants to improve your mental health, or at least prevent it from the negative effects of screens. In April 2022, they were more than 7.4 million downloaded the app. 65% have done so this year, despite the app being only two years old and having just 10,000 users in January 2021.
To put an end to the time wasted on my phone and the hundreds of superficial photos advocated by Instagram’s algorithm, I left the American application for BeReal. three months time. An interesting experience, especially with a French application, launched by Kévin Perreau, who passed through Ecole 42 (Xavier Niel’s school for developers). In hyper-growth, I was able to follow the (timid) evolution of the application, my use and its appropriation by users.
Without feeling conquered or disgusted by the application, BeReal is clearly going down a path of its own, which no competitor has yet gone to explore. In my opinion on BeReal, I will detail three main points in the use of the application (and social networks in general): my daily usage time, sanity and entertainment. Other editors of lemon squeezer joined me in the adventure to give you their own opinion.
To put an end to the time wasted on my phone and the hundreds of superficial photos advocated by Instagram’s algorithm, I left the American application for BeReal
Without filter, for the moment
It is customary on BeReal to post a picture every day. To do this, the application chooses to send you a notification, at a random time during the day (it can be in the evening too, early enough). It is not mandatory to respect the timing of the notification to post, but it is essential to post so you can view photos shared by your friends. To see other people’s content, you have to post yourself.
Between Instagram and Snapchat, the French application only offers one photo per day (it is possible to take it back) and only in the form of a story (but broadcast in the form of a stream of content to scroll through). It is not not possible to send a photo to a particular user in the form of a message. When posting, it is possible, however, to choose between broadcasting to friends only or in public. The “public” mode is useless at the moment, but it seems to open a path to popularity, if one day influential accounts were to emerge from the application.
Without filters, in the moment, BeReal’s image capture has the particularity of using both the front camera and the main camera. It is therefore difficult to escape a selfie, early in the morning. The goal is really to share the daily without glitter and without staging. Moreover, during the shooting, a countdown of 3 minutes is triggered to take the photo. A way to force authenticity, once again.
The application has all the same missed a small detail to play with the codes and to stage. A slight delay exists between the shot of the main camera and the front camera. This little time allows you to play with the angle for the selfie. If you take a low-angle photo with the main camera, you can review the angle of view directly after clicking on the capture button (the selfie photo will only be taken one or two seconds later).
Waiting for new friends… or not
Over the weeks, BeReal gives us a glimpse of our life. And beware if you are going through a period of routine, the application sends us a rather depressing image right in the face. By dint of always taking the same kind of photo to describe your day, our daily life only comes out even more boring and we quickly find ourselves asking the question : “am I going to post a pic today or wait for a better day to come?”. Moreover, it is quite possible to take a lambda photo to be able to consult the photos of others, then to delete one’s own (even if the button is not easy to access the first time).
The question very quickly arises of our friends list. BeReal is based on the model of Facebook and not Instagram, with a need for mutual subscription. When I started on the application, few of my contacts had an account and I found myself very quickly alone, not to be able to consult the content of others. So, I imagined myself with all of my registered relatives, and the interest that BeReal could have in keeping up to date with the daily life of its closest relatives, those for whom the passage of a vacuum cleaner on Sunday morning can interest us.
With 315% growth in monthly active users year-to-date, I’ve seen the app change as more and more of my contacts joined the application. To follow their usage, it was double or quits. Some never stopped publishing while others quickly fell into inactivity. And me, my interest in seeing more people there for less boredom had changed.
In my contacts, it was quits or double. Some never stopped posting while others quickly fell into inactivity
BeReal’s problem and my opinion
With a longer list of friends (we are talking about twenty people instead of 3 when I registered), my use of the app has changed, to the detriment of BeReal. Instead of finding more interest, now my limits for posting my daily life were tightening. Too intimate to be visible to everyone, too boring to be shared…there are more and more reasons for not taking a picture one day…or always.
There are more and more reasons for not taking a picture one day… or always
I would not have said no to a video mode. Maybe to be able to show more when I share a moment outside my home. Or to be more creative, more entertaining. With its current formula, the use is very limited and could be summed up in giving news and if one exaggerates the feature: saying that one is alive.
The use of BeReal is constrained by its interface and its model. But in my opinion, it is quite possible to post the same kind of content on Instagram (or on Snapchat, for its more off). The real advantage of BeReal, on the other hand, concerns screen time. We won’t pass no more than ten minutes a day on the app. Can’t do more.
As for the entertaining and fun side, everything will depend on your list of contacts and their lives. Between the badly framed photos taken with no other interest than to respect the daily rhythm requested by the application, and the members who, like me, find themselves bothered to have to take pictures of the dead times of our daysdifficult to pay much interest.
The real disconnection does not involve a change of application
And the problem may be there: wanting too much authenticity, BeReal forgot that our time spent on our screens was generally in our downtime, in our moments of calm and rest. The rest of the highlights and interesting moments to share will be given priority to Instagram stories. And if like me you prefer to delete Instagram, then it is not for another application that you will want to share your moments, but without a smartphone in your hand. Because the real disconnection does not go through a change of application.
The opinion of the rest of the editorial staff
Romain Vitt, head of the Tech and JV section. BeReal’s promise seemed interesting to me on paper: a limiting social network that forces us to share only one content per day with the people who matter. To be constantly connected to social networks, I therefore saw there a way to pick up while continuing to share photos with my loved ones.
Unfortunately, BeReal didn’t really turn out to be that attractive. If the promise is beautiful, the reality is quite different. First, because the application can quickly become invasive if you activate notifications. Every day, we then receive an alert telling us that we have not shared our photo of the day. Then another to inform us that our friends have just published theirs.
Also, the application suffers from the same limit as most alternative social networks: there is no one there. Apart from Hadrien (author of this article), no one around me used the application. From then on, the social network loses all its social character, and therefore its initial interest.
All your questions about BeReal
Who created BeReal?
BeReal’s founder is Kevin Perreau, who joined Alexis Barreyat to launch the app in 2020.
How many users does BeReal have?
In April 2022, 7.4 million people downloaded the app across the world, which was in the top 5 most downloaded apps on the App Store in the United States. The number of BeReal users is difficult to know, as a large number of users remain inactive after a certain discovery period.
Who invested in BeReal?
BeReal has already raised more than $30 million in Series A thanks to investment funds Andreessen Horowitz (A16z), Accel, and DST. For the moment, this is the only capital of BeReal (which does not charge its users and which does not broadcast advertising).
Where to download BeReal?
BeReal is available on the App Store (iPhone) and on the Play Store (Android). The application is only available on smartphones.
Who is BeReal for?
Unlike other social networks, BeReal has a model that could appeal to both young and old from its inception. The application is between Snapchat and Instagram with a format suitable for those who do not want to spend too much time on their smartphone and who want to guarantee the authenticity of the publications.
What languages are available on BeReal?
It is possible to use BeReal in French, English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin.
What are the differences between BeReal and Instagram?
Do not rely on messaging, stories, likes or a subscriber counter on BeReal. Unlike Instagram, too, you can only post one photo per day and it won’t be possible to use filters or dig into its image gallery. Videos are also not supported on BeReal.
- Drastic reduction in the time spent on our smartphone
- Another way to get news and give it
- Without filter, goodbye to the superficial
We love less
- Very limited use
- A good application to find your life devoid of interest…
- Being able to make short videos would not be a refusal