Instagram plans to launch its TikTok clone in the US and more than 50 other countries within weeks, NBC News reported this morning. Instagram later confirmed to TechCrunch that the feature will launch in “early August” in the US and more.
The feature, called Reels, is Instagram’s attempt to recreate the short musical video format that thrives on TikTok. Reels will let users record and edit 15-second video clips set to music, or users will be able to reuse audio from another person’s video, as is commonly done on TikTok. So far, the feature is only available in a few countries, including India and Brazil.
Instagram — like its owner, Facebook — has a history of replicating popular features from other apps. Its Stories feature was taken from Snapchat, and it led to explosive growth for Instagram, seemingly at Snapchat’s expense. Seeing the rapid growth of TikTok, Instagram is likely hoping to achieve the same feat again.
The launch also comes as political pressure builds against TikTok in the US. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said yesterday that the administration was looking at taking action against TikTok within “weeks,” after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo floated a potential ban earlier this month over security concerns.
For now, it sounds like Instagram isn’t necessarily going all-in on Reels, though. Reels will live inside of Instagram Stories, where it’ll be one option among many when posting. And videos won’t necessarily stick around, as they do on TikTok, unless creators specifically add them to their profile, TechCrunch previously reported.
It’s still unclear exactly how viewers will find Reels to watch. TechCrunch previously reported that they would live inside of the Explore tab, but NBC News said today that Instagram will add a new tab to the bottom of the screen where you’ll be able to watch them. A dedicated viewing tab could make the experience a lot more like TikTok, which throws users directly into an endlessly scrolling screen of videos.