Instagram has officially launched its Reels feature, a clone of TikTok’s popular platform, as the Chinese app continues to face uncertainty over its future in many countries.
Reels enables users to record 15-second videos that can be edited with audio, effects, and other creative tools. These videos can be shared by users on their feeds and stories and, for creators or those with ambitions of becoming one, through ‘Explore’.
Users can use songs from Instagram’s music library or use their own original audio, and can select from an array of augmented reality effects, as well as being able to perform TikTok-like transitions between clips and adjust the speed of parts of the video.
Reels has launched in over 50 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, India, Japan, and Brazil. It’s available on the latest version of Instagram for Android and iOS.
Facebook-owned platforms are of course no strangers to ‘borrowing’ features from other platforms and have famously been inspired a lot by apps such as Snapchat in the past.
TikTok is facing ongoing international controversy over alleged questionable uses of user data. To alleviate these concerns, the app’s owner, ByteDance, is currently in talks with Microsoft over the possible acquisition of TikTok’s US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand businesses.
Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer Principal Analyst
“Facebook has a mixed track record when it comes to copying other companies' features. Many of its attempts over the years have failed. Instagram did it extremely well with Stories, which it copied from Snapchat. I believe Instagram has a similar opportunity with Reels, but it's not a guaranteed success.
“Social media users, especially younger users, tend to use social platforms for different things. They use Snapchat to communicate in private or in small groups with friends, they use Facebook to keep up with school groups or to check in on what their parents are saying about them. They use Instagram to follow their passions and their interests, and they use TikTok to entertain themselves.
“Instagram has put a lot of effort into developing Reels and making it attractive to TikTok users and the creators who work on the app, but I'm not sure it can replace TikTok. Even if TikTok were to be banned in the US (which I think is unlikely to happen), users would find a way to keep using it. They are incredibly loyal and protective of TikTok.”