Instagram Reels to launch in India as short video apps explode after TikTok ban

Instagram wants to fill the void left by TikTok as it starts testing its 15-second video feature Reels in India. Here's how it works.

India's ban on Chinese apps has cracked open the market for other social media platforms — both new and old. Instagram is the latest to join the short-video surge.

The Facebook-owned app is reportedly testing a TikTok-like feature known as 'Reels' in India after launching it in Brazil last November. Instagram looks to fill the void left by TikTok, which had its largest and most loyal user base in India.

Photo: Instagram

While no specific launch date has been announced, a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider, "We’re planning to start testing an updated version of Reels in more countries. Reels is a fun, creative way for people to both express themselves and be entertained. We’re excited to bring this new version to more of our global community."

Like TikTok, Reels allows users to create 15-second looping videos set to music or other audio tracks. It also offers a bunch of editing tools to make the videos more attractive and entertaining before posting them on Instagram Stories. Instagram adds a preview of Reels content on the user's feed, and all the 15-second videos are collected under a separate 'Reels' tab on the profile page.

Additionally, Reels content created by public accounts will be made visible and discoverable on Instagram's Explore tab too.

Photo: Socialbakers

Reels' launch in India is not only timely, but also necessary with hundreds of millions of TikTok users scouting for alternative platforms to house their creative expressions.

Within a week of the ban on Chinese apps, short video apps like Roposo, Chingari, Mitron, ShareChat's Mojo, and several others, have ramped up their servers, rolled out revamped user interfaces, and even poached TikTok influencers to their platforms.

TikTok had 200 million users in India, and every social media platform right now is racing to grab a slice of that pie.

The founders of short video app told YourStory recently, "The India surge is actually an explosion. User projections have gone up 100x in the last one week."

Given the rising demand for non-Chinese alternatives, Reels from Instagram (which has more than 88 million users in India) couldn't have come at a better time.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)