It may seem timely since Instagram Reels has quite some similarities with TikTok but yes, Reels is debuting in 50 territories today on both Android and iOS.
In Reels, people will be able to publish short videos (15 seconds short) with music attached to it, from a large music library that Instagram recently licensed. They can also add filters and augmented reality effects that Instagram has prepared as well as share it across other social media sites, and even use a countdown timer. Instagram has redecorated its Explore page to set a specific landing spot for Reels. Users can freely set their short videos to public or private.
Due to its similarity with the Beijing-based app, TikTok, it does look like an attempt for Instagram to provide an alternative once TikTok does get banned on September 15, and let its users spend more time in the app instead of letting them jump from one app to another. Facebook was even seemingly accused by ByteDance of “plagiarism and smear” in a CNBC-translated statement ByteDance provided for its local Chinese users. According to the photo-sharing app’s product director, “TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space […] but at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.” Either way, Instagram Reels is now available.
One of the reasons Reels became a feature on Instagram is the difficulty of getting a new app to reach mass adoption – according to Instagram executives – considering they have previously launched a product that is quite similar to Reels (called Lasso) which was later discontinued.
Other Apps Are Competing Too
Aside from Instagram, apps like DubSmash and VidStatus are competing against TikTok, too. Snapchat is even planning to roll out its TikTok-style music feature this fall. Although they are still testing the feature, news broke out that it will debut in Australia and New Zealand soon. Snapchat’s newest feature would involve embedding music in the videos users shoot wherein its executives are discussing with music companies to license music. The idea is to allow users to swipe up on a video they are watching and get the details like the title of a song, the artist behind it, and be able to click a link to play the full song.
Snapchat once accused Instagram of cloning when Facebook gave the green light on Instagram’s stories feature in 2016, which later on became more popular than Snapchat.