As you took to your daily trawl through Instagram on Thursday morning, you may have noticed something a little different.
Where usually upon clicking on your Explore page you see an endless stream of posts and stories on topics you’re interested in, now you will also see videos labelled ‘Reels’ thrown in.
This week, Instagram announced the launch of a new feature that allows users to try their hand at making short, edited videos.
With Reels, savvy snappers can shoot 15-second clips which can then be remixed using the audio and visual effects built into the app.
Next, you can share your crafty creations with your friends and followers, and, thanks to Instagram’s Explore page, with much wider audiences.
The similarities between Instagram’s latest quirk and new social sensation TikTok has not gone amiss.
Much like TikTok, videos can be soundtracked to any song of your choosing (as long as it is on the app’s music library) or, alternatively, you can tape your own audio.
Add an augmented reality effect next if you desire, or one of the image-perfecting filters Instagram is so famous for.
Whilst video stories are hardly new to social media platforms, Reels makes it easier to edit and combine multiple clips into a single post. An ‘aligning’ feature helps wannabe movie-makers lets you line up a clip against a previous one, creating seamless transitions from one to another.
Warp your takes with speed editing, which even allows for changing the pace of just parts of the video.
Perhaps with hopes to welcome an all-new rise of Reels influences, Instagram has added a dedicated space in the app just for Reels. When someone opens TikTok, they immediately have access to millions of its signature videos, and with a dedicated Reels space, Instagram users are just a click away from a comparable experience.
Beginning as a photo-sharing platform in 2010, Instagram skyrocketed to become one of the biggest mobile applications in the world. Although it has diversified, with the ability to upload video posts, then Stories, then IGTV, and now Reels, Instagram has kept its name as the must-have image app.
The introduction of Reels, a blatant attempt to rival Chinese app TikTok and the 800million monthly users it has amassed in its short life, has swept onto the scene at a pivotal moment.
In July, President Trump shared his plans to legally ban TikTok in the United States, a country in which it has notably soared in popularity over the course of lockdown.
Although not quite on everyone’s radar at first, TikTok was initially debuted in 2016. Sensing its potential even then, Instagram owner Facebook has already been through the steps of making a competitor. Lasso, launched in late 2018, was built for viral trends and musical snippets but ultimately did not take off and was shut down last month.
Today, TikTok users are majorly teens. Instagram’s base, however, is more widely spread, so only time will tell which platform will be the origin of the next dance craze or viral prank challenge.
“We’ve been very clear in products in the past that we’re inspired by other companies,” said Instagram VP of Product Vishal Shah in a recent online Reels demo.
“Everyone’s kind of figuring out ways to make these products their own.”