Amid the U.S. government's plans to potentially ban TikTok due to data privacy concerns, Instagram has started testing a new feature that's similar to the China-based app in Brazil in November, and expanded the test to France, Germany, and most recently India. And as a Facebook company spokesperson confirmed to Bustle on July 16, Instagram Reels, a short video feature, will now launch in the U.S. in early August.
"We’re excited to bring Reels to more countries, including the US, in early August," the spokesperson said. "The community in our test countries has shown so much creativity in short-form video, and we've heard from creators and people around the world that they're eager to get started as well."
What Is Instagram Reels?
Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels allows its users to create 15-second videos using popular songs. Also like TikTok, Instagram hopes for Reels to become a place where users can partake in fun challenges and trends.
As Instagram Vice President of Product Vishal Shah told TechCrunch earlier this month, 45% of Instagram videos are 15 seconds or less, making Reels a great feature to help showcase the videos users don't want to post on their stories or feed. With the ability to film, add filters, include music, and share that film in a separate space specifically for videos, Reels will provide an extra layer to users' Instagram experience. And though the feature hasn't made its way to the U.S. yet, it could be a welcomed replacement should TikTok get banned.
You don't have to worry about copyright issues using the music available on Reels because Instagram has partnered with big-name labels in the industry to make the music accessible with its users.
How To Make Instagram Reels
The Reels feature can be accessed the same way Boomerangs or Instagram Lives — through options at the bottom of your screen in Instagram's camera feature. By tapping or holding down the circle at the bottom of the screen, users will be able to start recording their 15-second videos with options like speed, effects, AR filters, and a timer available to them. Reels gives you the ability to use your own original audio as well, and then share that audio with other users for their own Reels.
Where Can Instagram Reels Be Shared
Once you've recorded your Reel, you can choose where you want to share it. Along with your Story and direct messages to other people, you even have the option of sharing your Instagram Reels on the Explore page for everyone to see. The Instagram Reels that have the most engagement will appear here. Reels you create can also be added to a "Reels" tab on your profile.
When Will Instagram Reels Expand To The U.S. & Other Countries?
Should Instagram decide to move forward with expanding Reels globally, it will be providing the feature for its 1-billion user base. Considering how successful Instagram Stories have become, this could mean positive things for the company, especially if the U.S. does end up banning TikTok. As of right now, we don't know the exact launch date for Reels yet, but luckily, early August is just weeks away.