Buying a used vintage camera can be a risky investment, which is probably why people are turning to risk-free film camera apps to take and edit their snaps as an alternative. While there are plenty of options that can transform your pics into a Polaroid equivalent, there seems to be one app that’s standing out among the rest at the current moment. It’s called Lapse, and the photo editor is about to be your new favorite social media platform — if you get an invite, that is.
What Is The Lapse App?
Formerly known as Journal by Lapse when it launched in 2021, the app rebranded to Lapse in August 2023 and is number one on the Photo & Video Apple App Store chart as of Sept. 26. Photo-based social media apps are nothing new: Instagram is still very much around, and though we don’t hear much from the VSCO girls anymore, the app still ranks at number 25 on the Photo & Video chart in the Apple App Store.
What sets Lapse apart from the others, though, is that you’re unable to access your photos until at least one to three hours after they were taken. The idea is to wait like you would if you had a real disposable camera so that you can spend less time trying to get the perfect shot and more time living in the moment. According to a press release from 2021, the photos are meant to create “spontaneous and authentic moments” — something that other, curated social media apps sometimes fail to do.
It’s not every day you find a new social media platform, but considering Lapse has an average rating of 4.8 stars and nearly 20K reviews on the Apple Store, it’s fair to say it’s one to watch right now. One Apple App Store reviewer wrote they hope Lapse will be “the next social media app,” while another praised the app for its unique approach to social media. “I like to stay off media and indulge in my every day to day life and explore myself,” wrote the reviewer. “This app lets you have fun with your phone and do so.”
Lapse is free to download in the App Store, and you must be 12 years or older to join.
How To Get An Invite To The Lapse App
If you want to make an account, you’ll have to find someone who already has the app before you can join. That’s because Lapse is invite-only, which is why you’ll be asked to invite five people from your own contacts list before setting up your profile. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to friend at least eight users to create a group chat.
The app initially launched with 20,000 beta testers before onboarding the 150,000 members who pre-installed the app and then allowed them to invite five users each, which could explain its place on the App Store charts today. You might recall the Clubhouse app was invite-only when it launched in 2020, but eventually ditched that model in 2021. So who knows — if you can’t get an invite now, you might still be able to use the app later.
How To Use The Lapse App
Unlike other apps like Instagram and TikTok, Lapse only allows you to post for your friends rather than your followers. Each group chat is given a “roll” of 36 photos that anyone in the group can use, and the roll is “developed” in the group chat via an animated montage (appropriately called a Lapse) 24 hours after the first photo is taken. From there, everyone in the chat can react, comment, save, or export the photos directly in the thread, as if you were texting one another. Keep in mind, though, that the photos will save with a watermark on the bottom part of the picture, which may obscure the subject of your snap. BTW, the app is still in beta, so expect to run into some kinks along the way.
Lapse vs. BeReal
Lapse doesn’t allow you to review, retake, or edit your photos, a detail that feels very BeReal-inspired. That said, the pictures are processed to look like they were taken on a real disposable camera — you just don’t have to do any of the editing work yourself. You’ll also have an automatic photo dump that’s curated for your profile each month, so you can relive your favorite memories with your besties. The biggest difference between the apps, though, is the group chat feature, which basically serves as your feed and the comments section all in one place.
If you’re not sold on the new social media platform just yet, you might want to steer clear altogether. According to a Reddit thread on r/apps, deleting your account blocks you from making another account with the same phone number. Yup, you’ve only got one shot — make it count.