Instagram has confirmed it will launch a TikTok clone called Reels early August in the U.S. and as many as 50 other countries.
Reels has already launched in India and being tested in Brazil, Germany and France. The feature is Instagram’s attempt to recreate the short musical video format that thrives on TikTok. Reels will let users record and edit 15-second video clips set to music, or users will be able to reuse audio from another person’s video, as is commonly done on TikTok.
Reels also includes editing tools including a countdown timer and the ability to adjust the video’s speed.
Why Reels Is Likely To Be A Hit
Likely integrations with Instagram and Facebook will jump-start Reels adoption.
Recent Facebook and Instagram music licensing deals – for the most part missing on TikTok – will also encourage artists and labels to use Reels.
Instagram — like its owner, Facebook — has a history of replicating popular features from other apps. Its Stories feature was taken from Snapchat, and it led to explosive growth for Instagram, seemingly at Snapchat’s expense. Seeing the rapid growth of TikTok, Instagram is likely hoping to achieve the same feat again.
The launch of Reel and the meteoric growth of social video app Triller could not come at a worse time for TikTok. After a ban in India over security concerns stemming from its Chinese ownership, the US government is threatening ban or limit TikTok, as well. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that the administration was looking at taking action against TikTok within “weeks,” after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo floated a potential ban earlier this month over security concerns.
For now, it sounds like Instagram isn’t necessarily going all-in on Reels, though. Reels will live inside of Instagram Stories, where it’ll be one option among many when posting. And videos won’t necessarily stick around, as they do on TikTok, unless creators specifically add them to their profile, TechCrunch previously reported.
It’s still unclear exactly how viewers will find Reels to watch. TechCrunch previously reported that they would live inside of the Explore tab, but NBC News said today that Instagram will add a new tab to the bottom of the screen where you’ll be able to watch them. A dedicated viewing tab could make the experience a lot more like TikTok, which throws users directly into an endlessly scrolling screen of videos.