In trying to prevent TikTok from making it yesterday’s news, Instagram is foisting TikTok-esque features on its users. If you don’t believe me, just wait until you open the app and see the new avalanche of Reels coming your way.
On Thursday, Instagram announced that all new videos under 15 minutes posted to the social network would be shared as Reels. Users will only be able to choose between IGTV for lengthier clips or Reels for shorter ones. Instagram didn’t reveal what we all suspect to be the real reason it’s doing this—*cough* the rise of TikTok *cough*—and instead said that this new update was made because Reels was a more “immersive and entertaining” format. Much like TikTok, Reels allows a user to soundtrack their own video with audio from another. They occupy the entire screen during playback, while regular Instagram posts are smaller squares.
“Since reels offer a more immersive and entertaining way to watch and create videos on Instagram, we’re bringing these creative tools and the full-screen experience to your video posts, too,” the company wrote in a blog post.
As a result, the app will consolidate the Reels and video tabs on users’ profiles in order to create “one home” for all videos.
In another nod to TikTok, where it is arguably easier for newcomers to go viral and build their audiences, Instagram said folks with public accounts would now be eligible have their Reels seen and recommended to more people. Before the change, only users who posted Reels under 90 seconds benefitted from additional amplification. Don’t worry, this only applies to public Instagram accounts. Private accounts will still only show Reels to followers.
Besides the update on sharing Reels, Instagram unveiled expanded tools for Remixes, which is how the company refers to reaction videos. Over the next few weeks, users will be able to Remix public photos to create Reels or add their reaction after the initial video instead of side by side. The company also announced a feature called Dual, which allows users to record their content and record their reaction to their content at the same time using their phones’ front and back cameras, similar to TikTok’s Duet feature.
Now, I am not against product innovation, but seeing Instagram force Reels on people and shamelessly steal ideas from TikTok makes a vein pop out in my temple. While I am pleased at the Reels of adorable cats that Instagram serves me in my feed, the fact that they are inescapable is annoying. I hardly ever go to watch Reels on my own and kind of don’t want to because they’re being shoved in my face. (No offense to the precious furry babies.)