Reels, Instagram’s competitor to video giant TikTok, has launched in Australia, along with at least 50 other countries.
Reels allows users to record and publish clips of up to 15 seconds, using in-house audio and creative tools. Instead of being a separate app, Reels is embedded into the main Instagram app, with clips appearing on users’ feeds, in addition to being showcased in a new section under the app’s ‘Explore’ tab.
Hellooooo, Reels 🙌
Introducing a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.
Reels is rolling out today to more than 50 countries around the world.
— Instagram (@instagram) August 5, 2020
Much like TikTok, Reels users can take audio posted by others and use it in their own creations. However, audio cannot be directly uploaded to the app, it has to be recorded as part of the video. Despite audio libraries and video effects being well-known parts of TikTok’s toolkit, Instagram’s head of product Robby Stein has insisted the platforms are different.
“I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularising formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein told The Verge. “But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”
The arrival of Reels seems slightly advantageous as TikTok faces scrutiny both in Australia and the US. Following a threat from Donald Trump to ban the app in America, Microsoft has confirmed it is in talks with TikTok’s parent company Bytedance over purchasing the US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand arms of the app.
Since then, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put an end to earlier concerns around the app, saying, “There’s nothing at this point that would suggest to us that security interests are being compromised, or Australian citizens are being compromised.”
In related news, Snapchat recently took a leaf from TikTok’s book and cemented deals with major labels in order for users to incorporate music into their posts.