Facebook is reportedly planning to bring Instagram Reels, a direct competitor to TikTok, to the US in August.
Reels, which currently exclusive to a handful of countries, will be coming to the US and 50+ other countries.
Instagram Reels shares a number of the same features with TikTok, such as:Users can create and share 15-second videos. Users can add their own audio to videos, or choose a song from a catalog of licensed music. Users can grab original audio from other videos and add it to their own. Popular clips will be housed in a “Featured Reels” section.
Instagram Reels first launched in Brazil last November, followed by France and Germany this past June.
Most recently, only days after banning TikTok, India was next to receive the Reels update.
It’s likely no coincidence Reels will launch in the US soon, with lawmakers discussing potentially banning TikTok as well.
What is Instagram Reels?
Unlike TikTok, which is its own app, Reels is an extension of the Instagram app.
Reels is accessible from the bottom navigation menu as well as the Stories camera.
Users can create and edit Reels clips from the Stories screen.
Clips can be published either to users’ profiles or their stories feed. Users with public accounts can publish clips to the Explore feed also.
When the update rolls out there will be a dedicated Reels icon added to the bottom of Instagram’s main screen.
Users can visit the Reels tab to see clips uploaded by other people and see what’s currently going viral.
On the similarities between Reels and TikTok, an Instagram spokesperson issued the following statement:
“No two services are the same. TikTok specifically has harnessed real consumer behavior, and done amazing things.
We’ve also seen the rise of short-form video on Instagram, and think we can create something in a way that makes sense for our community.
This responsiveness to consumer demand is competition at work and one of the longtime hallmarks of the tech sector. It increases choice, which is good for people.”
The rise of short-form video on Instagram is not the only indication of consumer demand, as the spokesperson states.
Users, particularly those in younger demographics, have been flocking to TikTok in droves since its US launch in 2018.
TikTok has amassed an estimated 65-80 million active US users in a matter of years, and is quickly becoming ingrained in popular culture.
With the addition of Reels, Instagram has a chance of re-capturing the demographic of users that avidly uses TikTok.
Before long there may not be any other option.
What’s launching as a TikTok competitor may soon become a TikTok alternative, if US lawmakers have it their way.
Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok is being scrutinized by the US government as a potential security threat.
Several US agencies and branches of the military have already banned the use of TikTok among their personnel.
As lawmakers continue to call for investigations into TikTok, time will tell if its days in the US market are numbered.
Sources: NBC News, Business Insider, ABC News