In­sta­gram bat­tles TikTok with launch of Reels fea­ture

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By

Han­nah Boland

IN­STA­GRAM has launched a look-alike TikTok ser­vice in the UK as it at­tempts to fight back against its Chi­nese ri­val.

The Reels fea­ture, which has al­ready launched in France, Ger­many and Brazil, al­lows users to cre­ate short, 15-sec­ond videos within In­sta­gram and over­lay them with mu­sic or fil­ters.

They can then ei­ther share them pub­licly, and have them fea­tured in an “ex­plore” tab, or keep them pri­vate.

The Face­book-owned com­pany said Reels would be a “big part of the fu­ture of en­ter­tain­ment on In­sta­gram – with Reels, Sto­ries, Live and IGTV, we’re ex­cited to give peo­ple more ways to cre­ate and en­joy video the way they want”.

News of the launch comes just days af­ter it emerged that Amer­i­can tech gi­ant Mi­crosoft was in talks to buy the US, Aus­tralian, New Zealand and Cana­dian parts of TikTok – in a move which could save the app from a US ban.

Amer­i­can pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had pre­vi­ously sug­gested that TikTok’s Chi­nese own­ers meant it was a na­tional se­cu­rity risk, al­though a Mi­crosoft agree­ment, to por­tion out those parts of the app, is ex­pected to al­lay those con­cerns.

It is not yet clear why the UK was not in­cluded in the takeover plans, al­though an an­nounce­ment on a TikTok in­vest­ment into the coun­try is ex­pected later this week.

TikTok has been seen as one of the big­gest threats to smart­phone app leader Face­book, which is be­hind What­sApp and In­sta­gram.

Of­com data sug­gests TikTok grew its UK user num­bers from 5.4 mil­lion in Jan­uary to 12.9 mil­lion in April.

Kevin Mayer, TikTok chief ex­ec­u­tive, last week ac­cused Face­book of “ma­lign­ing at­tacks” and de­vel­op­ing “copy­cat prod­ucts”.

In­sta­gram, how­ever, has de­nied the UK roll­out is a re­sponse to the on­go­ing con­tro­versy around TikTok.

Vishal Shah, In­sta­gram’s vice pres­i­dent of prod­uct, said the app had been work­ing on the tool “for over a year”.

“I think the con­sumer prod­uct ecosys­tem is one that’s con­stantly be­ing in­spired by the things that peo­ple are do­ing around them, whether that’s in­ter­nally in your own or­gan­i­sa­tion or more broadly,” he said.

Vishal Shah, In­sta­gram’s vice pres­i­dent of prod­uct, said it had been work­ing on the tool for over a year

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