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What is Lapse? Here’s everything you need to know about the invite-only social media app


Lapse app

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

If you take a look at the Apple App Store Top Free Apps chart, you’ll find an unfamiliar app in first place — a new social media app called Lapse. 

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Lapse takes the appeal of a disposable camera, combines it with social media, and uses a unique recruiting technique to bring you an experience that distinguishes itself from any other popular social media app currently on the market. 

Whether you have gotten a Lapse invite from one of your friends and want to learn more about it, are thinking about downloading it, or simply want to know why the app is receiving so much hype, here’s everything you need to know. 

What is Lapse?

Per the app’s website, Lapse is an “invite-only disposable camera”. If you have ever used Dispo, Lapse has a pretty similar concept, allowing you to take disposable camera-style photos and then wait until they “develop” to access them. 

Once the photos develop, you can Tinder-style swipe left or right to either archive a picture or post it to your “Journal” for friends to see. This format is supposed to prompt authenticity on social media. All the photos you see posted are unedited, and the app showcases pictures with no filters or editing.

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The biggest differentiating factor about the app is that it is invite-only, meaning that you can only get started by inviting five friends, as well as completing other tasks within your phone’s settings. 

What do the photos look like?

The photos have an automatically added filter that gives them the vintage look of a disposable camera, as seen in the photo of my lunch below. 

Lapse app result

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

How do I access Lapse?

You can download the app from the App Store. However, that is only half the battle. Once you download the app, you need to do a series of actions to actually access it. These actions include inviting friends, giving access to your camera and contacts, and adding the Lapse widget to your lock screen for easy access when taking photos on the go. 

The amount of friends you have to invite depends on when you sign up. When I signed up, I had to send an invite to five friends. However, when my colleague Nina tried signing up today, she had to send an invite to eight friends to get started. 

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There has been some controversy about the recruiting methods, with some saying it’s like a pyramid scheme. However, as someone who actually really enjoys the app, I didn’t mind sending some invites to get access. 

How do I use Lapse?

Once you make it through all the requirements, you are set to start snapping away. The UI is pretty intuitive, and there are little demos sprinkled throughout the app to guide you. 

As soon as you open Lapse, you are shown a camera screen where you can snap a picture — just like you would for a Snapchat or Instagram story. Then, you have to wait for the picture to “develop” in the “darkroom”, which can take anywhere from one to three hours.

Lapse app camera

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

You are notified once the pictures have developed, and then you can begin the selection process of swiping left to archive the pick or right to add it to your journal, which your friends can then see. 

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These journals are sectioned by months, essentially grouping all of your selected photos in monthly photo dumps. 

You can also continue to add friends, which is facilitated through the notifications Lapse sends whenever someone from your contact list joins the app. 

Do you have followers on Lapse?

You do not have followers on Lapse, which is meant to be a feature that adds to the organic feel of the app, where filters, pre-meditated posts, and followers aren’t possible. In its App Store description, Lapse says, “Lapse is for Friends not Followers™”. 

Can you post existing pictures on Lapse?

No, the whole point of the app is that anything that you journal or post is a picture that was taken in the moment, developed hours later, and was not edited or retouched. 

When was Lapse released?

Lapse was originally released in 2021. However, since the original release, some tweaks have been made, and the new version went live in June 2023. The redesigned version has been hugely successful, topping the Apple App Store’s “Top Free Apps” and “Top Photo & Video Apps” charts by the end of September.  





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