Instagram has launched a new video editing tool in Brazil that copies some of the best-known features of TikTok. As reported by TechCrunch and Variety, the tool is called Reels and is available on both iOS and Android. There’s no word on whether it will be launched in other countries, but it’s certainly likely if the tool is a success.
With Reels, users can record 15-second videos, adjust their speed, set them to music, or borrow audio from others’ videos — similar to the “Duet” feature in TikTok. They can share them to their stories, send them via DMs, or post them to a new section of Instagram’s Explore tab called Top Reels, where the company is hoping the best clips will go viral.
It seems like a clever way for Instagram to leverage its existing network of users in order to take on TikTok. Facebook has previously tried to clone the app’s success with a standalone product called Lasso but it’s difficult to build a user base from scratch. Instagram previously had great success with this tactic copying Snapchat’s signal Stories feature in 2016.
You can watch a quick demo of Reels below:
It’s clear that Instagram is trying to steal TikTok’s thunder, but the company’s director of product management, Robby Stein, told TechCrunch that there was more than one way to skin a cat. “No two products are exactly the same, and at the end of the day sharing video with music is a pretty universal idea we think everyone might be interested in using,” said Stein. “The focus has been on how to make this a unique format for us.”
The Verge previously reported that the new tool might be called Scenes, after a similar feature was spotted by Jane Manchun Wong, a software engineer who’s made a name for herself reverse engineering code from top apps. It now seems Scenes is actually Reels.
We’ve known for a while that Facebook is extremely keen to counter TikTok’s rise. As well as launching Lasso, Mark Zuckerberg revealed the company’s ambitions regarding the Chinese app in audio leaked to The Verge in October. The Facebook CEO indicated then that Instagram would probably have to be enlisted in the fight against the new upstart. TikTok has “married short-form, immersive video with browse,” said Zuckerberg. “So it’s almost like the Explore Tab that we have on Instagram.”
Now is certainly a good time for TikTok’s competitors to pounce (Google is also reportedly working on its own response). The app has seen huge growth but is facing trouble from regulators, including a US national security review. For TikTok, the clock is ticking.
Update November 12th, 7:23AM ET: Story has been updated to incorporate news of the launch of Reels.