Fashion and Style

Lapse, a New Photo App, Tries to Compete in an Instagram World

The history of social media platforms is littered with apps that had their moment before fading. BeReal, the 2022 darling that required users to post just once a day at a random time, has lost momentum, according to Gen Z. Dispo, a photo-sharing platform inspired by disposable cameras, briefly made headlines in 2021. And in 2015 there was Beme, which was marketed as an online space for sharing everyday life as it really is.

Now there’s a new contender: Lapse, a photo app with the tagline “friends not followers.” It had its launch in 2021 but, after a rerelease, it has shot to No. 2 in the United States on the Apple App Store’s free chart.

Much like Dispo, Lapse encourages people to take pictures the way they did in the analog days, when disposal cameras were all the rage. Users snap photos and “develop” them in the app. When the photos are ready, several hours later, their takers can decide if they want to post them for their Lapse friends or archive them for private viewing.

All photos posted on Lapse must be taken in the app and cannot be altered in any way. There are no visible “like” counts. Instead, friends can react with emojis.

Another Lapse user, Ann-Abele Blassingame, 22, mentioned nostalgia as part of the app’s appeal. A graduate student in Greeley, Colo., they use Instagram as a “marketing tool” for their artwork and see Lapse as a place for sharing photos more casually.

Lapse is available by invitation only and requires newcomers to invite five people to join before they can start posting. Some people have been put off by this growth tactic. Andrew Lee, a 20-year-old student at Rutgers University, said he was wary of how users’ phone numbers might be used. Lapse’s website says the company does not sell user data.

Its rise on the Apple app chart suggests that the strategy is working. The big question is if it can stay hot. Neither Ms. Rendon nor Mx. Blassingame was sure if they would stick with it in the long term.

Mx. Blassingame said they had experienced a few technical glitches with the app, which have since been fixed. They complained by commenting on Lapse’s Instagram account.

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