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BeReal adds private groups and Live Photo-like features; Pew estimates 13% of US teens use app

The up-and-coming social app BeReal continues to vie for users’ attention with more and more bells and whistles. Next week, BeReal is rolling out two major new features: Behind the Scenes and RealGroups. Behind the Scenes functions like an iOS Live Photo, showing a few seconds of video recorded right before taking a photo; RealGroups lets you share your BeReal with a smaller group of friends, and you’ll be able to direct message within that group.

Behind the Scenes (BTS) is an opt-in feature and is taking a lot of UX nods from how Apple has conditioned us to engage with Live Photos on our iPhones. If a friend posts a BeReal with BTS enabled, the Live Photo symbol will appear in the upper corner of the image. If you long press on it, you’ll be able to see a few seconds of video leading up to the BeReal photo.

This app is already designed for connecting with your close friends, since it prompts you to share a front-and-back camera photo at a random time every day — you can’t see other people’s posts unless you make your own BeReal post. BeReals tend to be more unfiltered and — for lack of a better word — authentic, since you’re being prompted to take a picture at an unknown time (but if you get the notification to post while you’re, oh I don’t know, on the toilet… maybe just post late). But now BeReal is creating an experience for your even closer close friends. You can start a RealGroup where you can share your BeReals more privately. To sweeten the deal, the admin of the group gets to choose when the daily notification goes off. You can DM BeReals within the group, but you also get a group chat, which we assume will be used to razz the admin for choosing an inopportune “Time to BeReal.” You can only be in two groups though, so choose wisely.

“Going away to college and missing your closest friends back home? Create a RealGroup to stay close, share your dorm-life adventure, see what’s going on back home, and stay close no matter how far away you are!!” BeReal wrote in a blog post.

BeReal is at a do-or-die moment — can the app survive the hype cycle, or will it fizzle out? According to Pew’s annual survey on teens and social media, an estimated 13% of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 have used BeReal. But BeReal has pushed back on data from external sources in the past. In September, app analytics firm Similarweb told TechCrunch that BeReal had about 16 million monthly active users (MAUs), including about 3 million in the US. But Apptopia told TechCrunch that in 2023, BeReal had a high of 8.73 million MAUs in October, and a low of 7.96 million in February. BeReal itself reported having 20 million daily active users worldwide in April, and 25 million daily active users in September.

Though the app was relatively stagnant at the beginning, BeReal has been rolling out tons of new features like messaging, the ability to post more photos, a Spotify integration and a “Friends of Friends” discovery feed. Soon, the app will add its 2023 Year in Review feature, plus tagging — and, like Instagram, you can easily repost content you were tagged in.

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