Instagram Reels Could Kill TikTok Before the Government Does

On Wednesday, Instagram launched its Reels feature, one very similar to the TikTok app, and it may work in dethroning the popular, short-form video app, even as the U.S. Government has threatened to ban TikTok.

Instagram announced that Reels would be made available to its users. "Today we're announcing Reels, a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram. We want to give people more ways to create and enjoy video, plus discover new content from Instagram's community," Instagram VP of Product Vishal Shah said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new feature comes amidst threats from President Donald Trump that he will ban TikTok due to its ownership by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance. As previously reported, Microsoft has expressed interest in a partial acquisition of the app.

Like TikTok, users can record 15-second videos, to which they can add special effects, sounds and use multiple videos. Unlike TikTok, videos cannot pass 15 seconds (TikTok videos can be a minute long). When creating a video, users select "Reels" at the bottom of their Instagram camera and record a video, they can also select a song from the music library to play in the clip, as well as add effects. To use their own sounds, users just record without selecting audio.

One of the app's standout features is "Align," which allows users to "Line up objects from your previous clip before recording your next to help create seamless transitions for moments like outfit changes or adding new friends into your reel." This feature makes videos that boast instant-outfit changes and other similar changes seamless.

Users can share Reels to their stories and feeds, as well as DM them to people. If your account is public, your Reels can be shared via the Explore tab on Instagram. Original audio from private accounts will not be available to other users, and Reels will not be able to be shared to accounts that do not follow the user.

People who want to watch Reels can tune in from the Explore tab.

Another factor working in Instagram's favor is the fact that it's all within one app. Where TikTok succeeded in being a fun video sharing app, users can bounce between Reels and Instagram photos and videos all within one app.

The @Creators account on Instagram has shared tutorials for users to get adjusted to the new feature, including one from @Leethe4th, where he explained how to use the "Green Screen" for videos. Other tutorials will be shared throughout the week.

A few celebrities have already begun to make use of Reels including Tonight Show-host Jimmy Fallon, singer Selena Gomez, and actor Will Smith.

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A picture taken on October 1, 2019 in Lille shows the logo of mobile app Instagram displayed on a tablet. The popular photo app shared a new feature called "Reels," on Wednesday, which will allow people to share short-form videos on the app. Getty/DENIS CHARLET / AFP