Through all the mayhem surrounding TikTok these days, it’s worth remembering that TikTok is not the first nor last social media platform of its kind. TikTok was first introduced to US users in 2018 when it took over Musical.ly, which was once as popular as Vine. All of these apps are fertile ground for short-form videos that riff on each other and spiral into pyres of very-online chaos.
As TikTok ascended in popularity, with the latest jump in downloads caused by quarantine ennui, other platforms started looking into recreating its success and making it their own. Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok.
Reels recently made headlines for swooping in after India banned TikTok earlier this month. Apart from India, Reels is currently being tested in France, Germany, and Brazil. And Instagram will begin testing Reels in the US in just a few weeks.
“We’re excited to bring Reels to more countries, including the US, in early August,” a Facebook company spokesperson told Refinery29 over email. Reels is a short-form video format on Instagram that facilitates the creation and editing of videos users can share with friends and followers with the potential to be discovered on the Explore page. Reels will be another feature on the Instagram app, where 15-second videos can be filmed, edited, and shared.
With the US flirting with the idea of a TikTok ban, a number of competitors have seen a spike in interest, including Byte, Triller, and Dubsmash. Earlier this week, Snapchat announced it was testing a vertical-scroll that many say would make it resemble TikTok. Similarly, Reels will be a new addition to the Instagram app, which is currently already on the phones of millions of Americans.