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Snapchat Dual Camera: How does it work?

It's Snapchat's turn to copy a popular craze.

Published onAugust 30, 2022

Making a cake using Dual Camera for Snapchat

Social media apps are in a continual arms race, since any platform lives or dies based on the number of users it can attract for advertising. Snapchat just recently announced a dual-camera feature riding on the popularity of BeReal — so what is it, how does it work, and how does it compare to the original?

Related: How to get started with BeReal

What is it Snapchat Dual Camera?

Snapchat’s Dual Camera feature captures images using the front and rear cameras on your phone simultaneously. If you’re not familiar with BeReal you might wonder why anyone would do this, but the idea is that you can record the totality of a scene — both the thing you’re looking at and your actions (or reactions, as the case may be). Imagine for instance recording both New Year’s fireworks and the explosions reflecting off your awestruck eyes.

The option is now live in the Snapchat app for iPhone. Android support should arrive “in the coming months,” according to Snap.

How does it work, and how is it different from BeReal?

Dual Camera in Snapchat for iPhone

There’s nothing complicated about activating Dual Camera. When you’re creating Snap, Story, or Spotlight content, tap on the camera icon in the upper-right menu, then select one of the Dual Camera view modes.

The existence of multiple options is the main thing separating Snapchat’s approach from BeReal. Whereas the latter only has picture-in-picture, Snapchat adds to that with vertical, horizontal, and cutout splits. The cutout option inserts your body on top of the rear-facing video, which probably has limited use, but is certainly unique. Even the PIP mode is a little different, using a round frame instead of a rectangle.

You can also apply music, Stickers, and Lenses to Dual Camera content, whereas BeReal is limited to RealMoji reactions.

Of course, BeReal and Snapchat have fundamentally different purposes. The latter is about sharing whatever you like, whenever you feel like it, whereas BeReal is about capturing a static glimpse of your life within a two-minute window each day. All of your friends are meant to share posts at a specific time, hence the idea that it’s “real” — there’s little time for staging or professional lighting.

More: How to delete a BeReal

Why is Snap doing this?

Snapchat Dual Camera up close

BeReal is a surprise hit. As of this writing, it’s number six in the top free social category in the Google Play Store, and in the Apple App Store, it’s the top Social Networking app. Adding a similar feature to Snapchat is an easy way to seize on that popularity, since dual-camera video isn’t that hard, technically speaking. Most modern phones have plenty of power and at least two cameras. Sometimes, three or four.

On a broader level, Snapchat has struggled to stay in the spotlight, no pun intended. Its once signature feature, Stories, has been plagiarized by Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube, and all of those services are facing off against the TikTok juggernaut.

Adding a similar feature to Snapchat is an easy way to seize on BeReal's popularity.

That said, Snapchat’s userbase has been increasing without copying BeReal. After a brief dip in 2018 it resumed growth, in Q1 2022 reaching upwards of 347 million daily active users. Most of those (162 million) were outside North America or Europe, but even in those markets, user numbers have been rising.

While it’s not clear whether Dual Camera support will extend to owners of Snap’s Pixy drone, it’s extremely unlikely. Aside from the fact that it would require syncing a distant camera with your phone, Snap discontinued the Pixy just months after launching it.

We also wouldn’t expect the feature for Spectacles, although that might make more sense. Conceivably you could use Spectacles to record the world while your phone records your face, but they’re a niche product nominally meant to keep your phone in your pocket, and you have to import Spectacles media to work with it in the first place.

See also: How to save Snapchat videos on Android

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