As the Trump administration looks into possibly banning TikTok due to security concerns, TikTokers are flocking to Byte, a comparable short-form video-sharing platform that's U.S.-based. According to Sensor Tower, a global data resource for mobile apps, Byte took the number one spot for U.S. mobile downloads on iPhones on July 9 with 622,000 downloads, a massive increase from the 126,000 downloads on the day prior. But what exactly is Byte, and how do you use it?
Created by Dom Hoffmann, a Vine co-creator, Byte is not the one-for-one TikTok replacement people are saying it is. Rather, Byte is a reimagined Vine, which is kind of what people thought TikTok was originally. Byte launched in January, two years after it was announced, and long before TikTok became what it is today.
While the app has seen a bump in users over the last week, it's mostly alt-tok that's migrated over to the new app — a content community characterized by off-beat, absurdist, and underproduced videos. Byte is fairly low-fi: the filters aren't glam, there's only one font to choose from, and there aren't nearly as many soundbites as on TikTok. With so many new users downloading the app with high expectations, Byte has increased their video length from six to sixteen seconds, and recently promised via Twitter to add more custom features, sounds, and text tools.
While the user experience might not be as seamless as other apps, especially in terms of creating videos, Byte still offers that endless scroll of unfamiliar content that you can easily lose a day or year of your life thumbing through. Here's how to find your way on Byte, whether you're fleeing TikTok or happen to have the storage space for another ScreenTime-suck.
How To Find Videos On Byte
When you first open the app, hit the magnifying glass in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen to head to explore. There, you can type in a search phrase, or scroll through trending hashtags, featured hashtags, and niche corners of the app like "/memes" or "/kpop" or "/frogs." (Yes, there's a shortcut to frog content so you don't have to train the algorithm to invite you into DeepTok.) On the explore page, you'll also find other niche communities that will remind you of Vine days, like animation or horror. If you still can't find what you're looking for, you can tap the "suggest a channel" button and give developers your two cents. Don't want to think about what to watch? Just make sure you're in the "your mix" tab on your welcome page and the app will just curate a suggested experience for you.
How To Make Videos On Byte
Ready to make your own content? Tap the circle button on the menu bar to open up the camera. There you can film or upload up to sixteen seconds of footage. If you double tap the circle you'll open up a tool bag, where you can use a self timer, insert a clip, add floating text, a floating photo, or a floating GIF. Another menu bar option is the ghost feature, which gives you a double exposure. When you're satisfied with your footage, hit it the right arrow to get to the next page where you can add text and sound. Next, you'll fill out the video description using tags, and pick a channel you want your video to land on. You can always check on your stats — your follower count, view count, and number of videos you've watched — by heading to your profile, which can be found by tapping the person icon at the bottom right of the menu bar.
How To Follow Friends Or Strangers On Byte
If your favorite things about this kind of app is that you get to see content from people you don't follow, this next step might not be necessary. But if you are a creator looking to build a following or want to connect with friends on the app, you'll want to head to the search page and type in the names of users you want to find. Once you have a list of people that you follow, you'll be able to see that personal feed alongside your explore feed. You can easily toggle between "following" and "your mix" on the home page.
Once you spend some time on the app, you'll realize there's room for both platforms, each with their own quirks. For perspective, try to remember the first time you used TikTok and broke down over feeling too old to understand it. Look at you now!