Tech | August 5, 2020 1:55 pm

Facebook Launches TikTok Competitor Instagram Reels

Reels hopes to win over former TikTok users

Three phones showing Facebook's new Instagram Reels TikTok competitor
Can Reels replace TikTok?
Instagram from Facebook

With TikTok’s future still uncertain, Facebook is doing what Facebook does best: trying to beat the competition by adopting nearly identical features for its own platforms. The company launched its TikTok copycat, Instagram Reels, on Wednesday, amid a threatened TikTok ban in the U.S. and talk of negotiations with Microsoft.

Instagram Reels will be embedded within the app, which is owned by Facebook, granting immediate access to Instagram’s one billion-plus strong user base. Reels will allow users to create 15-second videos using editing tools like a countdown clock, a timer and a new align tool that will help users string together different video cuts. Reels will also feature music from a massive library of titles Instagram has already licensed. Unlike TikTok, Reels also boasts augmented reality effects that let users overlay filters and images onto videos.

Reels marks a departure for Instagram in that it hopes to attract creators with a focus on talent as opposed to everyday users.

“We’ve not been historically good at helping new creators find an audience,” said Vishal Shah, Instagram’s VP of Product, on a call with reporters Tuesday, according to Axios. “The pitch for new creators is that Reels is a good way to get discovered, even if you don’t have a follower base.”

Reels follows Facebook’s first attempt at at launching a TikTok-adjacent platform, the ultimately short-lived Lasso.

“This has always been part of our plan,” said Shah. “We’ve been working on this for over a year.” And while Facebook execs acknowledge the fortuitous timing of their new TikTok competitor, they said launching amid TikTok’s uncertain future is purely coincidental.

Reels will debut in over 50 countries on Wednesday, including the U.S., India, Brazil, France, Germany, the U.K., Japan and Australia, among others.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.