Tech

Instagram's TikTok Competitor, Reels, Is Finally Live & Here's How To Use It

You can share your 15-second videos to Explore, Stories, or just with close friends.

Instagram

Prepare to have your Screen Time to pop off. Instagram has officially launched Reels, a new short-form video sharing and editing feature you'll probably get sucked into quick. Reels is a video format within the existing app, similar to IGTV and Stories, that comes with special editing tools and resources that allow for a more produced look. Once you get the hang of how to use Reels — it's really easy — you can spend hours tapping through entertaining short videos from people in your personal network and beyond.

The launch of Reels comes amid President Trump's threat to shut down TikTok due to security concerns with the similar-ish app's Chinese parent company, ByteDance. Lest the timing make you think this feature is a reaction to the news, says Instagram Director of Product, Tessa Lyons-Laing, Reels has been in the works for over a year. Instagram began testing the app in Brazil last November, and after an enthusiastic response from users, put an international release into play.

When you're ready to start creating, tap the Instagram camera icon or slide over to the view-finder screen. There, you can pick one of the the millions of pre-loaded songs from Facebook's library, or you can upload your own sound or song. Next, you can either add media that you already have in your camera roll, or you can record a video with the song in real time — there's a 15 second maximum for videos, so you'll have to edit longer videos to fit. Similar to Stories, you'll notice you can also choose from a variety of AR filters and effects to lay over your video. If you want to take a multi-shot video with costume changes, dance breaks, or any other creative effect you can think of, you'll use the "Align" feature, which will help you keep your shot, well, aligned. Last, you can use the text or doodle tool to decorate or annotate your clips.

To share, tap the arrow on the upper right hand corner. If your account is public, your Reel will be shared in Explore and the shiny new Reels tab in your profile. You'll see “Also Share To Feed,” which will make your Reel show up in your friends' home feeds. You can also “Save As Draft” if you're not ready to share yet, or you can DM it to few specific people, just as you would with a Story. You'll also add your caption and relevant hashtags on this page.

Instagram

If you're not ready to make your own content yet, but want to see what's out there, head to your Explore page and you can see featured videos from people around the world. You can browse through songs, effects, or hashtags to find specific content, or just experiment with searches.

Instagram

Unlike Stories, Reels will have a permanent place on your feed, like IGTV. So long as you want to keep your videos visible, followers and community members will be able to view them from the Reels tab on your profile.