Instagram only acknowledged that it was working on a big new feature for its app fairly recently, but now things have accelerated, and Reels is launching today in the US and UK – in fact, in over 50 countries in total.
The new section of the app features short, 15-second clips that users can easily edit and upload, and is clearly positioned to try to compete with TikTok’s stranglehold on the short video market.
The latest version of the Instagram app has the new features enabled, and adds a tab to the Explore section letting you browse through other people’s Reels. You can also share your own Reels to that Explore tab rather than just to your friends, suggesting that Instagram’s hoping for a wider ecosystem to develop.
You can limit who sees your Reels to your followers or Close Friends, and put them on your Story for timed exposure, or indeed send them as a DM to keep them totally private.
Instagram’s thrown in a bunch of the features that have made TikTok such a success, including access to a music library to jazz up clips, AR effects, and video editing tools for snappy cuts.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Reels does – its integration into the Instagram app means that it’ll have a big userbase straight away, but whether the competition it gives to the longer videos on IGTV is a question mark over the decision.