What on earth is Reels, you ask? Well, word on the street says that it shares similar features to TikTok, which makes it a direct competitor. It allows users to create short video clips synchronised to music; these are shareable with followers and discoverable while browsing the app.

media update’s Nakedi Phala plays referee between Reels and Tik Tok.

So, which one do users prefer? And, which platform has better features? Most importantly, which one is most convenient for users? Sit tight, the answers to these questions will be gathered shortly. But first, let’s learn a bit more about the new feature.

Reels emerges from Instagram, a popular platform that has been around for quite some time, making it easier for users to flock to the new feature as the original, Insta, already has a loyal user base that users have been utilising for ages — an added bonus!

It’s clear that Instagram owner Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want to be left behind; he is always fighting to move with the times by developing a new or a similar app to that of his competitors. And Reels is just another one that can be added to the list!

Let’s dive right into it: long-serving TikTok takes on Reels:

Round I: The timing of the launch

In the game of business, it’s either win or lose trying. Did you know that there was an attempt by Facebook to launch an app similar to TikTok a year or two years ago? According to TechCrunch, Zuckerberg’s Facebook launched Lasso in late 2018, which was their response to TikTok. Faced with some development and user attraction issues, it was shut down before it could even gain popularity.

Fast forward to the dramatic year of 2020, (we’re sure you’re waiting with bated breath), a second attempt was made. This time, a revamped Reel launched during a time where TikTok is faced with various dilemmas. Talk about convenient timing. right?

The months of August and July saw Chinese app TikTok being tossed around by United States President Donald Trump who, according to The Verge, feels that ByteDance, the China-based company that is responsible for the administration of TikTok, could share information about Americans with the Chinese government.

Politics aside, for Instagram’s Reels, this was a convenient way for the team at Insta to take a sneaky jab and launch their app. Big question is, where will TikTok loyalists migrate to? (food for thought).

Round II: The differences between these two apps

When it comes to app differences, it seems it’s the video length offered to the user. Earlier this year, TikTok extended its video time to 60 seconds, while Reels emerged with a record 15 seconds.

Facebook is said to be working on music partnerships with record labels and agencies to grant Reels users audio and music for their videos. This comes as a means to operate within the boundaries of copyright law.

Instagram maintains that it has managed to keep up with consumer demand and they are striving against competitors. This feature is something that can be well-appreciated by its consumers and increase freedom of choice amongst users.

See images below on how Reels looks:

If you’ve ever used TikTok, you’ll be able to see the similarities. However it’s a smooth move for Reels to be added to Instagram rather than being launched as a stand alone app, just in case things don’t go well ... in which case, Facebook can just remove the ‘feature’.

Round III: How Reels creates videos compared to TikTok

Have you got Instagram? If you do, here’s how it works in comparison to TikTok. Instagram has added a new tab to the user profile, just as a measure to display all users’ Reels content in one place.

As a user, you’ll be able to enjoy this feature, which is placed alongside the traditional grid of recent posts, videos you were tagged in and / or the tab for viewing IGTV. TikTok is divided into two main feeds, which are ‘For You’ (default view) and an algorithmically designed stream of videos similar to that of IG’s explore page.

Overall, the differences seem to be in the look and design of each platform, with both aiming to offer users a particular feel. While TikTok is not an embedded feature or app, in order to enjoy most of its features, all you have to do is simply wipe left or right to navigate the app.

Round IV: The countries you can currently find Reels in

A TechCrunch article published on Wednesday, 5 August emphasises how the feature is being made available in at least 50 countries, such as Brazil, France, India, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain and others.
While another article by Stuff, an online tech publication, states that Instagram users in South Africa can enjoy Reel as of Thursday, 6 August, according to its publishing date.

By now, Instagram users have probably experienced Reel and have already created some opinions about the app in terms of whether it’s a ‘ya or nay’. We are all wondering: Will it be another case of the unsuccessful Lasso? Or will it be the anticipated newcomer to knockout the popular heavyweight TikTok?

All we can do is keep a sharp eye on reviews and comments of users’ experiences on the Google App Store, Apple App Store and tech publishing sites. 

Which app do you think will win this boxing match? TikTok, or Reels? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Did you know that Donald Trump has given Oracle the go-ahead to buyout TikTok in the United States? Read here to learn more about what’s happening to TikTok in the US.
*Image courtesy of TechCrunch