The Reels feature on Instagram is updating with a string of new features making it more TikTok-like than ever. The changes reportedly follow on from user feedback, according to Instagram. And to that end, it's adding longer video captures, tools to trim and edit videos, and adjusting the countdown timer.
The biggest new feature from this update will be the first of those. Namely, longer video options. Instagram Reels launched with a 15-second time limit mimicking the most popular app on the market for short-form video. But that other platform bolstered its offering with a second option for recording up to a minute.
Instagram isn't quite going that far, only pushing up to 30-second-long videos. But the addition should work as a middle-ground between users who wanted a minute-long option and the original limit.
What about the other new features in Instagram's Reels?
The other two options also almost mirror those found in TikTok. For starters, Instagram is upping the timer that counts down before a video starts being recorded. Users will be able to extend that timer now up to 10 seconds, giving them more time to prepare for whatever it is they plan to do. Or at least more time to get into position after tapping the record button.
Tying back into the first new feature is the final new feature in Reels. That's the ability to trim and delete clips during editing in the app. Now, users will have more granular control over the clips they record for splicing. And the feature couldn't be arriving with better timing. Especially since users will now be able to create short-form videos at half-a-minute long.
With the longer video format available, the ability to adjust clips before splicing them together adds an additional layer of precision. That, in turn, should allow cleaner, more professional-looking videos.
Why are these updates arriving now?
The obvious reason for the decision by Instagram to update Reels with these features now can be traced back to the state of affairs at TikTok. Of course, that's TikTok's precarious continued operation within the US, Instagram's biggest market.
The US government has labeled TikTok a threat to national security and privacy. As a result, and as the result of an executive order from President Donald Trump, TikTok parent company ByteDance will need to sell off TikTok. That's to a US company if it wants to keep operating in the country.
Various buyers have stepped up to take over, including Walmart, Oracle, Microsoft, and others. But any deal is far from finalized amid trade-related tensions between ByteDance's home region — China — and the US.