The Nostalgia Isn't That Real
I tried Lapse to see how it compares to BeReal as a new app.

I Downloaded Lapse To See How It Compares To BeReal

*Impatiently waiting for my pics to develop.*

There’s a new app in town, and it’s called Lapse. Since its rebranded launch in August 2023, the social media platform has climbed the App Store charts to peak at No. 1 — but before you hit download, you might be wondering what Lapse is and how it compares to its fellow social media apps. Many people have compared Lapse to Instagram and BeReal, but with a Y2K disposable camera twist. Here’s what you need to know about Lapse from someone who has already downloaded it and played around with it for a week.

Lapse currently has an invite-only status, which means you need a friend who already has the app to bring you in. The required invites is what got me to join Lapse, after my friend sent me a link to download and said it was the new “it” app to have. Once I downloaded it, I had to friend request eight users who were already on the app in addition to inviting five more people to join. It’s this invite system that has some people calling it a “pyramid scheme” to get to the top of App Store charts.

While inviting people can be a pain, this isn’t the first time an app has done this. You need an invite code to get on the Twitter dupe platform Bluesky Social, and Raya is an invite-only dating app. After getting through the invite saga, I was in and able to use Lapse — but I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it around.

Lapse Is So Difficult To Set Up That My Friends Quickly Gave Up

Rachel Chapman

The problem with forcing people to friend request and invite more people to join a brand-new app is that they don’t know what they’re getting into. When I signed up, I was immediately asked to friend request eight people. Like a lot of social media apps, it did pull up people I might know by taking a look at my phone’s contact list — something I’m not a huge fan of. The problem is a lot of my friends aren’t on Lapse yet, so I was shown a list of maybe two real friends, two acquaintances that I’m not close with at all, and a bunch of random friends of friends.

I didn’t want to automatically friend request a bunch of strangers, so I opted to handpick my eight. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find eight people I felt comfortable following right away. It was a real struggle, and I almost quit at this step. But for reviewing purposes, I requested seven people I was OK with and one random stranger just to move on.

Immediately after that, you’re once again forced to make friends by inviting five people in your contacts who aren’t on the app yet. Luckily, my friend who wanted to join but didn’t want to friend request strangers like I had, asked me to invite her and three other people she knows. My last invite I sent was to my best friend, and I immediately told him to ignore it. I didn’t want to burden him with the hassle of setting up Lapse as well.

After all the homework, I finally made it into Lapse. Unfortunately, none of my friends survived the setup. They all quickly gave up, and I was embarrassed for having brought them into this situation.

Like BeReal, Lapse Tries To Lean Into Authenticity

The main purpose of Lapse is to rebel against Instagram in a way, by focusing on posting more raw photos that have imperfections and aren’t overly filtered. It has an authentic approach to photo-sharing in the same way that BeReal does, which is why they’re often compared to each other. However, the goal of authenticity is the only thing that these two have in common.

With Lapse, the idea is to take photos with your camera, which then take time to develop. It’s like a disposable camera where you have to wait to see how your pictures come out. On BeReal, everyone on the app is asked to share a photo at the same time and it snaps a pic from both your front and back camera, so everyone can sees where you are without a filter. BeReal does allow you to retake your photo before sharing, but the idea is to post your first snap for an honest, in-the-moment pic.

Both apps want you to ditch the overly curated way of sharing photos that has become so the norm on platforms like IG, but their methods for tackling this issue are greatly different. I feel like BeReal truly does want you to be real, while Lapse is more focused on glamorizing a time before smart phones, when film was how you took pictures.

Lapse’s Disposable Camera Is A Nostalgic Throwback For Your Photo Dumps

Rachel Chapman

I will admit that the disposable camera aspect of Lapse is nostalgic, and the photos do come out looking like you took them on a Kodak camera that you had to wait two weeks to develop at your local pharmacy. However, that’s probably the only thing I really liked about Lapse. As much as it tries to be a digital disposable camera, it can never truly replicate the OG. Plus, camera apps that mimic disposable cameras already exist, like Huji Cam, Dispo, and Daze Cam. You really don’t need another option, especially if it takes forever to develop.

On Lapse, once you take a pic, that’s when it starts “developing.” This can take one to three hours, so don’t expect to update your friends right away on what you’re doing. When your photos are ready, you can either choose to share them or archive them by swiping right or left like a dating app. The photos you choose to share go straight to your feed like a photo dump, which your friends can see.

You can also share other photos you’ve taken later by making an album. In your “memories,” you’ll see all the photos you’ve taken on Lapse and it’ll look like a camera roll organized by date. To create an album, just select the images you’d like to share and either add them to an existing album or make a new one.

There’s also a time-lapse feature that allows you to create a slideshow of pictures from your camera roll that you set to a song of your choice. This rotating slideshow appears on the feed and above your profile pic on your page. Choosing a song for your time-lapse reminds me a lot of choosing a MySpace profile song — something I’ve been craving for. You can also create a “journal” from your slideshow to share on other apps to get your friends to follow you on Lapse — once again, a feature that’s trying to bring in more users.

Lapse Is Most Likely A Flavor Of The Week App

As much as I like the Y2K disposable camera feature of Lapse and its attempt at bringing in more of the authenticity a lot of us crave from Insta, I don’t think Lapse is here to stay. Not only was it annoying to sign up and pester all my friends — which I still feel awkward about — but it just doesn’t deliver anything fun or new.

When Lapse first launched in 2021, it had a group chat feature where you and your friends were given a “roll” of film to share that had 36 pictures on it. Once you finished a roll, the app would develop your pics and create a lapse for you, like the app’s current slideshow feature. I wish this still existed today. It sounds like such a cute way to create memories with your friends. If the group chat feature does still exist, it’s not easily accessible because I didn’t see it when I tried looking for it.

Ultimately, I think Lapse should have just stuck with its OG feature because as it is right now, it doesn’t really feel like it’s bringing anything new to the table. Its invite-only gimmick probably got a lot of downloads, but I don’t think it’ll be sticking around. In fact, most of my friends I was forced to bring in have already deleted Lapse off their phone. Also, waiting for my pics to develop was the worst part about disposable cameras. I’m so *not* nostalgic for that.