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What is BeReal and how to get started with it
Social media paints a far rosier picture of our lives, with most of us sharing the more exciting parts of our day on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and other platforms. The need for likes and followers makes everyone go out of their way to find the perfect shot, and it looks staged. BeReal is attempting to flip the script and go back to the days of early social media, where it was all about you and your friends. The relatively new social media app has grown exponentially over the past few months for one reason: letting people “be real.” What is BeReal, and how do you use it? Here’s everything you need to know.
Read more: The best social media apps on Android
BeReal is a relatively new social media app that has seen its popularity grow exponentially in 2022. The app is all about showing your authentic self and everyone's daily lives. You can only take one photo during a two-minute window that opens at a random time, and there are no filters, tuning, and editing options to spruce up your pictures.
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What is BeReal?
Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau founded BeReal, and the app launched in early 2020. Touted as the “anti-Instagram,” BeReal is a photo-sharing app that lets people show the more mundane but authentic aspects of their daily lives. There are no followers, likes, or filters, and you only take one picture daily to share with people on your friend list. And with only a two-minute window to do so, you don’t have much time to stage the perfect picture.
A growing younger generation looking to move away from social media’s staged and toxic aspects has flocked to the app. It has seen its user base grow exponentially in 2022 following a dedicated push in the US market, particularly on college campuses. According to Apptopia (via BusinessofApps), BeReal’s active user base has grown from just under a million in July last year to 21.6 million in July 2022, with close to 3 million people using the app every day.
BeReal sends you a notification at a random time of the day. You have a two-minute window to take a picture of what you’re doing and share it with your friends on the app. It uses both the front and back cameras of your phone, so don’t forget to smile as you’re carrying out whatever everyday task.
The notification pops up simultaneously for your friends and all other users (if they are in the same time zone). You can still post your BeReal late, so you don’t need to rush if you are doing something you don’t want to share. But the picture will include a tag that shows how late you were to post it.
BeReal also takes away “lurking,” a favorite past-time for many on social media. You won’t be able to see what your friends post or access the Discovery page until you share your picture first. Speaking of the Discovery page, you can share your picture publicly if you want to. However, other users can only react to it. There’s no way to gather likes and followers; you will only see your friends’ posts regularly.
You can comment and react to photos posted by your friends but only react to images on the Discovery page. BeReal doesn’t let you off the hook with reactions, though. Instead of a simple emoji, you get to react with a Realmoji, which is essentially a picture of you mimicking the emoji. You can save your Realmojis and use the same one to react to future posts.
There isn’t much else in the way of app features with BeReal. You can download your photo to your phone or share it on other social media platforms. Everything your friends share disappears after a day, and there’s no easy way to download or save them. Yes, BeReal will also notify users if you screenshot their picture.
How to use BeReal
How to set up your BeReal account
Download the BeReal app from the Google Play Store or iOS App Store. After swiping through a quick app guide, set up your BeReal account by adding your name, date of birth, and phone number, and create a username. BeReal will send you a verification code to confirm your phone number.
How to add friends on BeReal
BeReal will ask for access to your phone contacts list during the setup process. You can add anyone on the list who uses BeReal to your friend list. You can skip this step, deny access permission, and manually add friends to Bereal if you know their usernames. Type in their usernames in the search bar of the My friends tab and click on Add friend when you find them.
The app is a little buggy, so in my case, it didn’t indicate that I had successfully added my friend using the Add friend button. I could see their BeReal on my feed after a few minutes, though.
You can also ask friends to add you by sharing your BeReal account. Tap on the profile logo at the top right corner and tap on the share button at the bottom. It will look like BERE.AL/(your username). You can send the link using the phone’s standard share options.
How to take a BeReal
You will have to take your first BeReal when you set up the app to see what your friends have posted. After that, you will get a push notification on your phone once a day at a random time, and you will have a 2-minute window to take a BeReal and post it. You can still take the photo after the window has closed, but the app will show your friends how late you were.
BeReal keeps you on your toes by sending the push notification randomly during the day. Over the last three days, I’ve received the BeReal notification at 9 PM, 10 AM, and 3 PM. BeReal says that it follows an algorithm, but no one has been able to predict the time of the next day’s BeReal notification yet.
To take a BeReal, tap on the notification and use the camera to take a photo of what you’re doing. The app will take a picture with the rear camera and then switch to the front camera for the selfie shot. You can add a caption after you’ve taken the photo. When you’re ready to post the picture, you can choose to share it only with your friends or post it to the Discovery page.
How to comment or react on a BeReal
Once you take and post your BeReal, you’ll be able to see what your friends have posted. You can comment and react to your friend’s posts and only react to public posts on the Discovery page. Open the post, type your comment in the Add a comment section, or tap on the chat icon at the bottom right corner. You can also react with a Realmoji.
How to create a Realmoji
As the name suggests, a Realmoji is an emoji, but real. When you want to react to a post, click on the emoji icon at the bottom right corner. You will see the option of five emojis. Try replicating the emoji with an actual picture using the selfie camera and save the reaction photo. You can use the saved reaction for other BeReals from now on or take a new image every time.
How to download and share your BeReal
Open your picture and tap the download button at the bottom right corner to save the photo on your phone. You can also use the buttons to share the photo to other social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
You won’t be able to download what your friends post, and their photos will disappear when the next day’s BeReal notification appears. Be aware that BeReal will notify users when you take a screenshot of their pictures.
You can find your older BeReal photos, though. Go to your profile (tap on the button at the top right corner) and tap on a date in the Memories section to see what you posted that day.
There aren’t a lot of settings to work with. Tap on your profile icon at the top right corner, then tap on the three vertical dots icon to open the Settings menu. You can change your timezone, block profiles, and enable or disable Memories. You can adjust your notifications, especially if you’re busy and don’t want to be disturbed by the push notification. Tap on Notifications and toggle off the It’s time to be real setting.
Something to keep in mind is that BeReal geo-tags your photos. Others can see your location if you share your photo on the Discovery page. You can disable this setting when you take a BeReal or remove location access on your phone. Go to Settings > Privacy > Permissions Manager > Location and tap on BeReal to disable the location permission.
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Yes, you can delete a BeReal. Tap on the three vertical dot icon at the top right next to your BeReal and select Delete my BeReal. You will be able to take one more photo for the day.
Yes, BeReal notifies users when someone takes a screenshot by adding a camera icon (on Android) and a number counter icon (on iOS) when you open the BeReal.
It is relatively safe since you can choose to share your images only with your friends. It doesn’t require a lot of app permissions except for access to the camera. You can choose to deny access to your phone contact list and disable your location settings.
BeReal says that it follows an algorithm for when the push notification is sent. Still, no one has been able to predict when the following notification will come.
The app is a little buggy. There’s a known issue where the app doesn’t acknowledge when you try to add a friend with their username. You will see them on your feed eventually. Other problems include the camera not working or not being able to post. BeReal recommends closing and relaunching the app.