As Donald Trump furthers his plan to ban the popular video platform TikTok in America, Instagram announces Reels. The feature helps you create and discover short videos on their platform—doesn’t that remind you of any other app?
Reels lets you record and edit 15 second clips with audio, effects and other tools. You can then share the videos with your followers on your Feed, and if you have a public account it will also be available for a wide Instagram community through the Explore page.
It is very similar to how TikTok works. While you have your own Feed on TikTok to watch content from people you follow, the app’s ‘For You’ page features content based on an algorithm of what you’ve already seen, liked and shared.
“We’re going big with entertainment and [making Explore] the permanent place for you to go lean back, relax, and be inspired every day. It’s our hope that with this format we have a new chapter of entertainment on Instagram,” said Robby Stein, Instagram’s product director.
Once Reels is available for you, you can select Reels at the bottom of the Instagram camera. You then see editing tools like Audio—where you can select songs from Instagram’s music library, AR Effects, Timer, Countdown—where you’ll see a short countdown when you press record before it begins recording, Align, and Speed.
Once your Reel is ready, you can move to the share screen, where you can save the draft of your reel, change the cover image, add a caption and hashtags, and tag your friends. If you also share to your Feed, your Reel will appear on your main profile grid, but you have the option to remove it.
On the Explore page, which has already been available on Instagram for posts and Stories, you will be able to look through Reels made by anyone on Instagram. The feed is also “customised for you”, meaning your feed will also be based on an algorithm—just like TikTok.
However, there are some features TikTok has that Reels doesn’t. People won’t be able to “duet” with each other, and Instagram also won’t allow people to upload songs directly into the app’s system. This means up and coming musicians won’t be able to market and test their songs there like on TikTok—as it worked so well with artists like Lil Nas X and Doja Cat.
Reels is launching on Instagram in more than 50 countries today, including the US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on both iOS and Android. But it hasn’t yet reached Malaysia, possibly due to our lack of Instagram’s music library, still.
Instagram isn’t the only platform looking to take advantage of TikTok’s near downfall. Snapchat announced that it will soon let you add music to the videos you record. But unlike TikTok, it’s designed for sharing music with your “real friends” rather than for an Explore page.