The Instagram Reels and TikTok logos.

Reels is a new feature on Instagram that allows people to create 15-second videos á la Vine and TikTok. But is Instagram Reels just a TikTok clone?

Easily-digestible, short video clips are certainly not new on social media. TikTok is the latest platform to use it, and it’s become incredibly popular. Now, Instagram has jumped on the bandwagon with Reels. Let’s take a look at how the two apps compare.

What Is Instagram Reels?

First and foremost, Reels is a video-creation tool. It’s a new mode you can access through the Instagram Stories camera. You can make a Reel from a single or series of clips, but it can only be a maximum of 15 seconds.

Instagram expects most Reels to include multiple clips, though. There’s even a handy tool for aligning a new clip with the previous one to create a seamless transition.

Two video clips in the Instagram Reels editor.
The Instagram Reels editing tools.

Like an Instagram Story, there are a number of editing tools available for Reels. You can add music, adjust playback speed, and use Instagram’s existing library of augmented reality effects. Reels also has a timer and countdown for recording videos hands-free. After you record a clip, you can add stickers, text, and doodles.

Sharing a Reel is mostly the same as sharing anything else on Instagram. Accounts set to public can share Reels to a dedicated space in the “Explore” tab. Private accounts can simply share the Reel to their feed. You can also share a Reel as your Instagram Story.

Once you create a Reel, a new “Reels” tab will appear on your profile, and they’ll also appear in your main profile grid.

The Instagram Reels "Share" screen on a smartphone.
You can browse and share Instagram Reels the same as any other post.

Again, Reels can also be posted to the public “Discover” tab, so you can browse through videos from accounts you might not follow. You can scroll through and Like, Comment, or Share the same as you would with any Instagram post.

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You might think Reels sounds a lot like Instagram Stories. While both creation tools function similarly, they serve different purposes. Stories are intended to be more of a social feature that allow people to share short videos or photos, which are only visible for 24 hours. Reels are more about creation and entertainment.

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Is Reels a TikTok Clone?

Reels immediately garnered comparisons to TikTok. After all, TikTok is a popular 15- to 60-second video platform. Is it fair to say Reels is nothing more than a TikTok clone, though?

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While the interfaces of the two tools are quite different, it’s true that the functionality is mostly the same. The majority of TikTok clips are under 15 seconds, but they can last up to 60.

There are a handful of editing tools available, including playback speed, beauty and photo filters, and augment reality effects. After a clip is recorded, you can add text, sounds, stickers, and further edit your clip.

The text and sound effects in the TikTok editing tools.
TikTok’s editing tools are more robust.

At this writing, though, TikTok has a wider selection of editing tools. For example, you can add voice-changing effects, or even a voice-over, to clips after they’re recorded. TikTok also has a few templates for sharing photos in a creative way. TikTok is the more mature platform, and it feels like it when you’re editing.

The biggest difference, however, is in the platforms themselves. Reels is just a feature in the Instagram app, not a stand-alone platform.

TikTok is a social media network designed exclusively for short video clips. When you open the app, you’re immediately greeted with a scrolling feed of clips.

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The "Post" menu in TikTok.
The posting and browsing options on TikTok.

While the process of creating Reels and TikTok clips might be similar, people use the apps in very different ways. If you follow someone on Instagram, you see their regular feed posts, Stories, and Reels.

If you follow someone on TikTik, you’ll just see their video clips. Reels is just one of a growing list of Instagram features, while TikTok is its own thing.

Of course, Reels wouldn’t exist if TikTok wasn’t popular. Just as Instagram Stories was inspired by Snapchat Stories, Reels was inspired by TikTok. However, deciding which one is for you is more about what each platform offers and the content you prefer.