Instagram 'Reels': Facebook introduces new feature to make TikTok-like videos

New feature sits alongside live videos and stories as other ways of making and sharing content outside of the traditional feed

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 05 August 2020 13:43 BST
A visitor stands in front of the Instagram stand during day two of Dubai Lynx 2019 at Madinat Jumeirah on March 12, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A visitor stands in front of the Instagram stand during day two of Dubai Lynx 2019 at Madinat Jumeirah on March 12, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Getty ImagesFrancois Nel/Getty Images)

Instagram has officially launched Reels, which bears a remarkable similarity to TikTok.

A new update will bring the short-form video feature to the app, with a new section that users can click onto. It will sit alongside other ways of posting Instagram content, such as stories, live videos and IGTC.

Reels will allow people to create 15-second videos that can then be edited to add fiters, music or other additions. All of those features are most famously used in TikTok, which has risen up to be a competitor to Instagram in recent times.

But the company has denied that the launch is a response to the ongoing controversy around TikTok, or the threats that it could be banned in the US.

Instagram said it was instead an example of a feature being inspired by a competitor, but hopefully building on that base and adding new features.

"[Introducing] Stories in 2016 was one where we give full credit to Snapchat in terms of inventing the format and we then absolutely took it and made it our own," Vishal Shah, Instagram's vice president of product, told the Press Association.

"I think of short-form video in very much the same vein - TikTok certainly didn't invent short-form video, I think they've done a lot of really amazing work to make it their own, and I think we've been inspired by that great work, but then want to take that and integrate that into Instagram in a different way."

Within Instagram, the reels will function as a kind of content that can be shared anywhere: they can be sent privately to friends in a direct message, or shared straight onto the feed. Instagram suggested that feature was one that made it distinct from TikTok.

They are created by opening up the Instagram camera and selecting the Reels button. From there, a host of editing tools will pop up, and users can video themselves using different augmented reality features or with music on top; when it is recorded, it can be shared onto a special Reels tab, but can also be pushed into the various other places that Instagram hosts content, such as within stories.

Just as with TikTok, those videos can also feature on a devoted Explore page, and anything that does will receive a "Features" label. Instagram staff will choose those videos, and users will get a notification if they are selected to appear on that page.

Reels is launching in more than 50 countries, including the UK as well as the US, India, Brazil, France, Japan and Australia. It wil arrive in the latest version of the app for iOS and Android from now.

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