Instagram battles TikTok with launch of Reels feature
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