In two years, TikTok has become a cultural force to be reckoned with. With over a billion downloads and nearly 500 million active users, the short-form video app is today dominating screens across the world and catching the attention of several tech giants. Now, YouTube has reportedly set its sights on the video-sharing network’s surging popularity.
YouTube is developing a TikTok-like section that will live inside its main Android and iOS apps, according to The Information. Simply called “Shorts,” it will feature an endless feed of brief videos posted by users. Creators will also be able to take advantage of YouTube’s treasure trove of licensed music as the background score for their videos and shoot lip-syncing clips.
Dylan Byers, a Senior Media Reporter at MSNBC, said in a tweet that YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki confirmed the existence of Shorts in a podcast episode with him that is scheduled to air later this month.
Quirky editing tools are an imperative part of TikTok’s appeal but it’s unclear at the moment whether YouTube will offer a similar set of features. The Google-owned video platform already comes equipped with a handful of standard cropping and annotation abilities. We also don’t know if Google will adopt the same video length restrictions as TikTok’s 15-60 second limit.
YouTube isn’t the first large-scale tech company to take on TikTok. Instagram has been attempting to replicate its success for a year now. Last year, it updated the feed of its long-form video platform IGTV to function more like TikTok, and a couple of months later, cloned the majority of TikTok’s app inside Stories under a new section called Reels. Instagram’s parent, Facebook, has also released a TikTok clone dubbed Lasso.
YouTube, which today has over 2 billion monthly active users, has gone through several changes in the last year or two. The company added the ability for YouTubers to publish Snapchat-like stories and reach out to their viewers more often through a new social feed. Therefore, it remains to be seen how YouTube will plug in another major feature without cluttering up its app. It’s also worth noting that Google’s Area 51 division, which is responsible for developing unique, experimental apps, recently launched Tangi, a TikTok-esque platform for sharing minute-long DIY videos.
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