On August 5, Instagram released Reels — a new format for creating and discovering short-form videos — to users in the U.S., along with 49 other countries. Reels had been in the works for over a year, with testing beginning in Brazil in November 2019, Tessa Lyons-Laing, Instagram Director of Product said on a call with reporters on Monday. Reels initially started as a video feature in Stories that lived for 24 hours, but evolved into 15-second videos without an expiration after user feedback.
You won't need to download an entirely new app to create or find Reels on Instagram. Like IGTV, Instagram Reels has a home in Explore and videos you create will be collected within tab on your profile. If you want to discover Reels from others', head to your Explore page where you can browse featured creators and search by hashtag, audio track, or AR effect. If you've been worried about the possibility of a TikTok ban in the U.S, Reels, which has many similarities, is coming to your feed at the right time.
If you want to create your own video, open your camera and slide from the selection at the bottom to the Reels section. You can then choose from millions of licensed songs in the Facebook library, or create your own audio track. You can add AR effects — Lyons-Laing says the green screen is already a popular one. From here, you can record a new video or upload one that's already on your phone.
You can customize your video with in-app editing tools like adding text to go along with specific segments, a countdown, and Align, which let's you line up different takes.
Like TikTok, you have options for the audience you want on each video you share, though the choices are a bit different. On Reels, the default setting is that your video goes goes to the Explore page if you have a public account, but you can also choose to share it with your Home feed so your followers can see, too. If you have a private Instagram account, you can just share your video with your Home feed. You can also choose to DM it to specific people. If your video is shared in Explore or on your Home feed, the video will also live on your profile, but if you DM the video it'll only be shared privately and won't live on Explore or in your profile. You can also share your Reel to your Story, in which case it won't appear on Explore or your profile tab, and will expire after 24 hours. And if you get stage fright right before posting, just like you can on TikTok, you're able to save it as a draft for later.