With TikTok’s future uncertain, Instagram is hoping to lure some creators away with the rollout of a direct competitor, Reels, which is launching in more than 50 countries today, including the US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on both iOS and Android.
Similar to TikTok, Reels lets people create short-form videos set to music that can be shared with friends and followers and discovered while browsing the app. It’s the newest opportunity for Instagram to bring in users, increase the amount of time people spend in the app every day, and establish itself as a video entertainment platform.
Reels allows people to record videos up to 15 seconds long and add popular music, as well as an array of filters and effects, over top of them. For creators looking to use Instagram Reels as a new way to build a following, Instagram has revamped its Explore page to create a specific landing spot for Reels at the top of the screen that people can vertically scroll through — similar to TikTok’s “For You Page.”
Both private and public options are available. Having a public profile will allow your Reels to be widely discovered. For people who want to share with friends, Reels created under private accounts will only post to a person’s Feed and Stories. The feature lives entirely inside of Instagram; it’s not a new app.
The launch of Reels comes as TikTok faces a potential ban in the United States by President Donald Trump or a possible partial acquisition by Microsoft. ByteDance also said Sunday that Facebook was among the troubles in its path, accusing the company of plagiarizing its product with Instagram Reels. Robby Stein, Instagram’s product director, said that while TikTok popularized the short video format, the two products are different.
“I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein said in a statement. “But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”