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Instagram takes aim at TikTok with these new Reels features

Instagram app's splash screen
Instagram on Android (Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Instagram Reels is getting new creative features and audio tools.
  • The service now supports adding your own audio along with new sound effects.
  • You'll also be able to upload reels of up to 90 seconds in length, up from the previous limit of 60 seconds.
  • Reels has also been updated with new interactive stickers and templates.

Instagram Reels, Meta's version of short-form videos, has always hoped to lure some of TikTok's young viewers onto the platform. The platform has occasionally cloned some of its rival's features in the past, and the latest update is an expansion of its efforts to challenge TikTok.

The service has announced (opens in new tab) new creative tools, audio capabilities, and other features to "help you engage more with your audience and help you express your most authentic self on Reels."

Perhaps the headline new feature is the ability to upload longer reels. Instagram previously limited the length of videos you could upload to no more than 60 seconds. The latest change extends that restriction to 90 seconds, allowing you to get more mileage out of Reels.

However, the new feature pales in comparison to TikTok's new 10-minute video upload limit, which went live earlier this year.

Instagram has also added the ability to import your own audio directly into Reels. The new capability allows you to insert "commentary or background noise from any video that’s at least 5 seconds long on your camera roll," according to Instagram.

Your audio may also be available for others to overlay on their clips, a feature that TikTok has long had. Furthermore, Reels has a slew of new sound effects to spice up your videos. These audio tools include everything from airhorns and crickets to drums and much more.

Instagram Reels' new sound effects (Image credit: Instagram)

Instagram has also introduced some of the existing features from Instagram Stories to Reels, including interactive stickers for polls, quizzes, and emoji sliders.

In addition, Instagram now lets you create reels in the same format as the one you just watched using the new templates.

"We recently launched Templates, which allows you to easily create a reel using another one as a template," Instagram said. "It pre-loads the audio and clip placeholders, so all you have to do is add and trim your unique clips."

The new tools and options mark a step further in Instagram's aspirations to attract young eyeballs from TikTok by mimicking some of its features. Last year, Instagram launched Remix on Reels, a feature similar to TikTok's Duet. Most recently, the service started testing a new TikTok-style full-screen feed.

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.