Instagram confirmed it's preparing to soon launch its TikTok competitor, known as Reels, in the U.S. The company expects to bring the new video feature -- which is designed specifically for short-form, creative content -- to its platform in early August, according to a spokesperson. The U.S. launch comes shortly after Reels' arrival in India this month, following a ban of TikTok in that market. Reels has also been tested in Brazil, France, and Germany.
NBC News reported this morning Instagram would arrive in the U.S. and more than 50 other countries in a matter of weeks, citing sources familiar with the matter.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the U.S. (and international) launch, saying "We’re excited to bring Reels to more countries, including the U.S., in early August," without providing specific details of which further markets will be added.
"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," the spokesperson added.
Reels was designed to directly challenge TikTok's growing dominance. In a new area in the Instagram app, Reels allows users to create and post short, 15-second videos set to music or other audio, similar to TikTok. Also like TikTok, Reels offers a set of editing tools — like a countdown timer and tools to adjust the video’s speed, for example — that aim to make it easier to record creative content. Instagram, however, doesn’t have the same sort of two-tabbed, scrollable feed, like TikTok offers today.
The move to more quickly roll out Reels to more markets comes as TikTok has come under intense scrutiny for its ties to China. India banned the app, along with 58 other mobile applications designed by Chinese firms, in June. The Trump administration more recently said it was considering a similar ban on TikTok, for reasons related to national security. Yesterday, it said such a decision could be just weeks away.
Since the news of a possible ban hit, other TikTok rivals got a boost in the charts, including Byte, Triller, Dubsmash, and Likee, for example. Snapchat also began testing TikTok-like navigation for its public video content, and YouTube is running a smaller test of its own.
Because of Instagram's reach, it has a shot at stepping in to pick up tens of millions of U.S. users if TikTok disappears. But TikTok users may not jump en masse to a single new app if a ban takes place. Already there are signs of the TikTok community splintering -- dancers prefer apps like Dubsmash and Triller, while young Gen Z'ers like Byte, for example.
No exact launch date for Instagram Reels in the U.S. was provided.