We Tested Instagram Reels, the TikTok Clone. What a Dud.

We Tested Instagram Reels, the TikTok Clone. What a Dud.


Thousands and thousands of people have applied the social media app TikTok to make and share brief, exciting, entertaining movies. I, Brian Chen, am not one particular of them.

Count me as a single of all those by no means-TikTokers. As an more mature millennial, I have exclusively used Facebook’s Instagram to post pictures of my pet. I have never produced a 15-2nd dance online video.

But that all altered last 7 days. That was when Facebook launched a TikTok copycat known as Reels, which is section of Instagram. Its introduction out of the blue built producing limited movies a large amount extra intriguing.

Facebook’s timing was brilliant. That is since TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese online corporation ByteDance, has been under important force from President Trump. He has determined TikTok as a nationwide security risk and threatened to ban the app from the United States, prompting various panicked TikTokers to look for possibilities.

So in this article was an possibility to check Reels and compare it with TikTok. I invited Taylor Lorenz, our internet lifestyle writer and resident TikTok professional, to share her ideas about how Facebook’s clone worked as opposed to the true matter. With her expertise and my beginner know-how, we could evaluate how both the by no means-TikTokers and the TikTok die-hards could possibly experience about Reels.

The verdict? For her, it was: Not good. For me, it was: Baffled.

Let us commence with what was copied. Both equally TikTok, a stand-by itself app, and Reels, a characteristic inside of Instagram, are totally free to use. With Reels, Instagram mimicked TikTok’s signature capability to produce quick video clip montages, which are overlaid with copyrighted music and embellished with results like emojis and sped-up movement.

The similarities really much ended there — and not in a beneficial way for Instagram.

On Instagram, the films are revealed to a feed known as the Explore tab, a mishmash of pictures, sponsored posts and very long-kind video clips. On TikTok, movies are surfaced as a result of For You, a feed algorithmically customized to demonstrate clips that go well with your pursuits. Reels also lacks TikTok’s enhancing characteristics, like track recommendations and automatic clip trimming, that use synthetic intelligence to speed up the approach of video clip development.

Taylor and I every single analyzed Reels for five days and then talked about what we had observed. We did not keep back.

TAYLOR I can definitively say Reels is the worst element I’ve ever utilised.

BRIAN You should elaborate. As a never ever-TikToker, I come to feel that it’s probably the worst Instagram function I have made use of, also, but your thoughts look much better than mine.

TAYLOR It’s horrible. Not only does Reels are unsuccessful in every way as a TikTok clone, but it’s complicated, frustrating and unachievable to navigate. It’s like Instagram took all the recent functionality on Stories (a device to publish montages of photographs and movies with extra filters, textual content and tunes clips), and jammed them into a separate, new challenging interface for no explanation.

To me, it is seriously unclear whom this function is for.

BRIAN Let us stroll via how to use Reels.

To open up the attribute, you faucet the Examine button (the magnifying glass) and open someone else’s reel right before hitting the digital camera button to get started creating your individual reel.

So I have to view another person else’s online video prior to creating my have? This is a waste of time, battery life and mobile info.

TAYLOR You can also create a reel by swiping suitable in Instagram to enter the camera and then selecting Reels, a button upcoming to Tale. Which is complicated.

BRIAN It is entirely undiscoverable without reading through guidelines. But Alright, you discover the button to build a reel. Then you can commence recording videos or add movies you’ve presently recorded. Then you can overlay songs and some consequences like emojis and coloration filters. Then you produce a caption and publish.

How does this compare with TikTok?

TAYLOR TikTok is far better in a million strategies. The major 1 staying that TikTok gets rid of all of the friction that generally arrives with striving to make a superior movie.

On TikTok, you can just seize a ton of videos (like, hit select on 17 different movies of all various lengths), and dump them all into the application and hit a button. TikTok will instantly pick out highlights from your films and edit them in a way to match the beat of whichever sound you select. This tends to make it so straightforward to make a truly engaging, easy video clip in underneath 10 seconds from a ton of footage.

Here’s an illustration of Reels vs . TikTok of the similar point. You can see which is far better!

Here’s the reel:

And here’s the TikTok video clip:

Oh, hold out, did Reels preserve without audio?

BRIAN Yeah. Instagram said that there had been restrictions and that they have been functioning with third-bash legal rights holders to expand its functions. So when you conserve a movie to your device right after publishing it, the songs is automatically stripped absent.

What you explain about TikTok just will make Reels audio so missing. In Reels, you have to manually select where by a audio observe starts off to assure it is in sync with a clip. You’re declaring TikTok mechanically figures that out for you?

TAYLOR In TikTok, you have a element called “sound sync,” which all people utilizes. You upload a bunch of clips, and it will reorder and trim them to match whatsoever seem you select. It also implies the very best songs for every video.

BRIAN Wow, seriously? That is insane.

For songs on Reels, I would hit the Audio button and just form in a term that came to thoughts to look for for appropriate music. With this movie of my corgi taking in bread, I typed the phrase “hungry” to pick out “Hungry Eyes.” Then I experienced to trim the clips and manually synchronize a part of the song. That took me about 10 minutes.

Now choose a appear at an case in point of a failed reel that I in no way posted. I was striving to make a montage of dog butts getting scratched. After including the music, I was able to go again and trim the second clip to be in rhythm with the songs, but couldn’t go backward to trim the initial clip of scratching the Doberman’s butt.

BRIAN Suitable. At the moment the easiest way to do that on Reels is to established your profile to good friends-only so that all your posts are viewable only to close friends. In any other case, if you share a reel privately with a close friend through a immediate concept, it acts like a Story and disappears just after 24 several hours. Which is baffling.

How extensive would you say you put in on creating a TikTok vs . a reel?

TAYLOR With TikTok, I can write-up a exciting video of my working day in less than 15 seconds. Reels took me about 5 minutes.

Some folks do spend an massive amount of money of time editing their TikToks and building these truly difficult and awesome videos. But for me, just a relaxed user who employs TikTok to seize enjoyable highlights from my working day-to-day lifestyle, that is the time frame.

BRIAN As an Instagram consumer, I see no reward to applying Reels as opposed to Tales for submitting movies. It’s really baffling for even us to use, which means it is likely to be a great deal more complicated for relaxed tech people.

I’ll include that my followers did not seem impressed with Reels. The reel of my corgi, Max, having bread got about 250 likes, down from the 300 to 400 likes that he usually receives from standard Instagram pics.

Possibly I’ll write-up far more Reels one particular working day if Instagram catches up with TikTok. But until finally then, I imagine you have persuaded me to start a TikTok.

TAYLOR I can’t see myself generating a Reel once again. I might use it as a repository to re-add my TikToks. But around all it just doesn’t have any of the movie-modifying capability that I’ve arrive to expect.

It’s also hard to find and discover other Reels. Portion of why it is so effortless to be creative on TikTok is that you’re introduced everyday with a series of trends, memes or issues. It would make it effortless to see what other men and women are executing and hop on it or riff off it. I just don’t see what Reels is excellent for.

BRIAN Which is some reel chat.



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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.